Incumbent District 10 Canadian Wheat Board director Bill Toews faces four challengers for his job.
Harvey Vaags of Dugald and Barry Reimer of Killarney were the last to throw their hats in the ring before nominations for wheat board directors to be elected in even-numbered districts closed last week.
Rolf Penner of Morris, Curtis Sims of MacGregor and Toews, who farms at Kane, declared their intentions earlier.
Penner, Sims and Reimer want the federal government to remove the CWB’s single-desk marketing authority.
Vaags wants more marketing options, but if ending the single desk means destroying the CWB, he’s opposed.
“I think there is room for some dual marketing, in some areas, but I don’t think we should take it all away (from the CWB) and I don’t think we should move real quickly to make sure that we don’t lose the wheat board because that’s No. 1 – I think we’ve got to keep the wheat board,” the full-time City of Winnipeg police officer and grain farmer said in an interview Oct. 23.
Toews says the CWB can offer little value without the single desk, which makes it the only seller of western Canadian wheat and barley destined for domestic human consumption or export. As the only seller the CWB can sometimes capture premiums and prevent price undercutting.
In an interview Oct. 24, Reimer said he has never seen proof that single desk selling earns farmers more money than they would get in an open market.
“I don’t believe it,” he said. “I feel it (the absence of an open market) has cost my farm an awful lot of money.”
Reimer, who custom combined in the U. S. over the past five years, said giving Western Canada’s 20 million tonnes of production unlimited access to that market, would not affect U. S. prices.
He points to oats and canola, which are priced the same on both sides of the border. However, the U. S. is a net importer of oats and canola, while it’s the world’s largest wheat exporter.
“In an open market one of two things will happen: either the wheat board will be competitive or they’re not and will fall by the wayside,” Reimer said. “If that’s the case so be it. If they can’t compete they don’t need to be there. If it can, it will be a marketing tool for us.”
Last year Reimer said he exported a bin of winter wheat to the U. S., netting more than $10 a bushel, after buying it back from the CWB.
Reimer is president of the Killarney Marketing Club, operates a trucking and custom-farming business, as well as running his own grain farm.
Vaggs said the CWB has made some important improvements in recent years; he wants to see more. Perhaps farmers could bypass the CWB with grain the CWB can’t market such as wheat highly contaminated with fusarium head blight, he said.
According to Vaags, some open-market candidates are misleading the public by comparing average wheat prices in the U. S. against what farmers here received from the CWB’s wheat pool. The average price and what U. S. farmers were paid are not the same, he said.
“I don’t think you can actually compare those two,” Vaags said.
“One day last year the price was $20 (a bushel) but how many farmers took advantage of it? It’s probably very, very few so the returns to farmers won’t be anywhere near what the average price is.”
Vaags said he is currently working full time as a police officer, but can retire any time. He wants to be a CWB director, he said, because he’s interested in grain marketing and wants to contribute to the farm community.
Biographies for all five District 10 candidates are available at www.cwbelection.com.
Previous articles about the other District 10 candidates are available to Manitoba Co-operator subscribers at www.manitobacooperator.ca,in the archives section of the digital edition of the newspaper. [email protected]