With many Manitoba farmers struggling to seed this year’s crop, news that the Canadian Wheat Board’s (CWB) sales monopoly will end Aug. 1, 2012 comes at a bad time, says Manitoba Agriculture Minister Stan Struthers.
“The last thing they needed was to have the federal Conservative government come along and run a knife through the wheat board when farmers have a ton of things on their plates to deal with,” Struthers said in an interview last week after meeting with his federal counterpart Gerry Ritz.
They met in Winnipeg May 31 to discuss compensation for flooded farmers and the CWB. According to Struthers, Ritz couldn’t make a business case for the change.
“It’s not thought out, there’s no business case for it,” Struthers said. “This is Conservative ideology that’s driving this.”
The Conservatives promised an open market if re-elected. Ritz has long contended that farmers will be better off with an open market. Not only will they sell their wheat and barley at higher prices, but also the change will prompt more value-added processing in the West.
“All you have to do is look at the market share of the Canadian Wheat Board over the last number of years – it’s going down and down and down,” Ritz told CBC Radio last week. “Less farmers are growing wheat and more farmers are growing canola. Canola now has surpassed wheat as the king on the Prairies and there’s a reason for that. Farmers control the time and the place and pricing of marketing their commodity.”
Struthers said the CWB’s inevitable demise in an open market will cost Winnipeg 400 good-paying jobs and devastate Churchill, which relies on CWB grain exports. [email protected]