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CWB optimistic about privatization plans post-monopoly

Ian White_AD_cmyk_opt.jpegThe new CWB, a government-owned grain company created last Aug. 1, continues to work towards privatization, says its president and CEO Ian White.

“We still hope we can find a mechanism to have farmers as shareholders (but) with the amount of capital we think we need maybe others as well,” White said in an interview May 14.

“We’re not ruling out the co-operative approach, but we’re looking at a range of options that will give us what we think is the best way forward, bearing in mind that we want to make sure we develop the business and grow the capital of the business.”

It’s difficult to raise much capital through a traditional co-operative, he said.

Under federal legislation that took effect last Aug. 1, the CWB had up to four years to devise a plan to privatize or wind down. In the interim, the CWB must prepare an annual report and submit it to Parliament.

In its 2011-12 annual report the CWB says there’s strong competition in international grain markets.

“Although significant planning and execution have occurred to position the CWB for success, there is uncertainty in the new marketing environment as well as CWB’s ability to become a viable non-statutory corporation within the time frame provided in the legislation.”

Nevertheless, White said he’s optimistic about the CWB’s post-monopoly future.

The annual report says the CWB will leverage its 75 years of operations, experienced staff and “a proven track record in pooling farmers’ grain,” to remain viable in an open market.

“Grain has been moving for export pretty well,” White said. “We’ve been participating in all that movement and we’re not unhappy with the position where we are. And we’re still optimistic about our future.”

About the author

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Allan Dawson

Allan Dawson is a reporter with the Manitoba Co-operator based near Miami, Man. Covering agriculture since 1980, Dawson has spent most of his career with the Co-operator except for several years with Farmers’ Independent Weekly and before that a Morden-Winkler area radio station.

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