Keys tone Agr icul tural Producers want assurances farmers won’t be footing the bills associated with ending the Canadian Wheat Board monopoly.
They also want key non-marketing services in research and market development, presently supported by farmers through the CWB, to continue.
Delegates at the July general council meeting passed two carefully worded resolutions stating the farm lobby group’s position on what farmers will expect within a changed policy environment.
One states that the federal government, not farmers, should bear the costs associated with any winddown of the CWB.
Pension plans, severance packages and other costs such as those associated with termination of contracts with world grain buyers are all foreseeable costs during the CWB’s transition from a single-desk seller of western wheat and barley to become an open-market grain company.
“If the single-desk marketing of the CWB is removed and there is need for the CWB to either wind down its marketing operations or make some extreme cutbacks, the farmers of Western Canada should not be responsible for those costs because they were incurred due to the federal government’s change of the wheat board’s mandate,” said Starbuck-area farmer and District 6 representative Chuck Fossay at last week’s KAP general council meeting.
CWB chair Allen Oberg has also recently stated that the federal government must assume these associated costs, noting the tab could run into the hundreds of millions of dollars.
KAP also passed a resolution that calls for the continuation of other key non-marketing services supported by the CWB, including the Western Grains Research Foundation and the Canadian International Grains Institute.
“Producers benefit from those services and there needs to be a continuation,” said Dauphinarea farmer Don Dewar.
In an interview he added that most farmers, regardless of their position on the wheat board, appear to recognize the benefits derived from these entities.
In all the debate over the merits of a wheat board, Dewar said he’s never heard farmers complain about paying for CIGI. And even while the checkoff is refundable, most farmers leave their money in.
“Farmers are willingly paying that no matter what their opinions are on marketing,” he said.
The two resolutions supported by delegates state that KAP lobby the federal government to cover all costs associated with the changes or end of the CWB and that KAP lobby the government for a strategy that allows for the continuation of non-marketing services currently provided by the CWB.
KAP president Doug Chorney said in an interview both resolutions are about ensuring farmers have input into whatever transpires.
“If this is going to be a time of transition beyond our control we need to come to terms with that reality and make sure that we protect the interests of producers in this changed environment,” Chorney said.
“Historically, KAP has always taken a position of farmer decision-making and farmer empowerment and we’ve not stepped away from that. We want to make sure that we are part of the process of change so that we’re not excluded and that our members are not hurt in that transition. ”
Farmers have little time to have input into a changed policy environment. The federal conservative government plans to pass legislation this fall to scrap what is the world’s last major agricultural monopoly by next August 2012.
“We want to be at the table and we need to be prepared,” added Fossay. “We have a very short window to get these things in place and try and be prepared for whatever legislation comes forward down the road.”
“FarmersofWesternCanadashouldnotbe responsibleforthosecostsbecausetheywere incurredduetothefederalgovernment’s changeofthewheatboard’smandate.”
– STARBUCK-AREA FARMER AND DISTRICT 6 REPRESENTATIVE CHUCK FOSSAY