CWB voter eligibility changes justified

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When your Conservative government introduced legislation to improve the Canadian Wheat Board legislation, we did it for two simple reasons: to get paycheques to farmers faster and make sure real farmers who are producing grain are the ones voting in CWB elections.

Somehow Allan Dawson found this very simple legislation confusing, so I’d like to offer some clarity for producers who read his article in the May 28 edition of the Manitoba Co-operator.

The first simple change in the proposed legislation would make sure that farmers involved in producing grain are the ones voting in CWB elections. The Grain Growers of Canada, Western Canadian Wheat Growers, Western Canadian Barley Growers, the CWB itself and others all agree that farmers should be involved in producing at least 40 tonnes of grain in order to vote in director elections.

A few critics seem to forget that farmers who are producing any of the seven grains listed in the Canadian Wheat Board Act (wheat, barley, flax, oats, rye, canola, and rapeseed) have always had the opportunity to vote in CWB elections. Since these producers are forced to take into account the impact CWB monopoly when making decisions about crop rotations and projecting commodity prices, they also deserve the opportunity to vote in director elections.

These same critics are worried that farmers who produce crops such as canola and flax will still be allowed to vote in CWB elections. Apparently these critics are completely unaware of standard crop rotation systems and don’t realize that farmers who grow canola or flax often also grow wheat or barley.

The second simple change this legislation makes is that it makes sure producers can get their money faster. As everyone knows, taxpayers backstop CWB payments so it makes sense to have an accountability process. The current process requires Treasury Board approval which may not mean much to the average Canadian, but it adds up to three weeks to that process. Our proposed legislation maintains the necessary accountability, but cuts Treasury Board out of the process and that means producers can get their money faster.

Your Conservative government is bringing forward these common sense changes because we always put farmers first in all of our agricultural policies.

It’s always strange to see how uncommon it can be to find common sense on some editorial pages, but we know farmers in coffee shops across Western Canada will agree that this legislation will deliver some simple solutions for some simple problems.

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz

Please forward letters to Manitoba Co-operator, 1666 Dublin Ave., Winnipeg, R3H 0H1 or Fax: 204-954-1422 or email: [email protected](subject: To the editor)

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