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Letters – for Jun. 30, 2011


Farmers rejoice! The single- desk monopoly of the Canadian Wheat Board will soon be abolished and all will be well in the world. Farmers will prosper and “thousands” of jobs will be created. Or so they say. All this according to Rolf Penner; vice-president of the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association (Manitoba Co-operator,June 23, 2011).

Isn’t it funny that this group also frequently promotes the efficiencies of private industry over a state-run monopoly such as the CWB. How is it then that they predict “thousands” of jobs. The CWB presently employs about 400 souls. Will they need more employees? Will private industry not be as efficient as the CWB? Or possibly it’s all the value-added jobs they claim will miraculously appear once it becomes “an open and competitive market.”

Isn’t this the same claim made when the Crow Rate was abolished?

The argument then was that grain would be too expensive to ship to port and massive value added processing facilities would prop up and create prosperity.

Grain would be fed to cattle, and other livestock, and the feedlot industry would return to Manitoba. How did that work out? Sure the swine industry has expanded, but most of the value added is shipped to the United States.

My bet is many producers would be happy to have the Crow back today, considering current freight rates (and little value-added processing to show for it).

It’s always the same from this group – outlandish claims with no hard evidence. Even Harper’s hand-picked group of anti-CWB stakeholders came to the conclusion that the CWB could not survive without the single desk. I believe the WCWGA took part in this initiative. Wouldn’t it be refreshing, just for once, if they would be honest and just admit it’s just plain ideology with them.

Robert Vosters Marquette, Man.

100 Years, Five Different Wheat Boards, One That Works

Over the past 100 years we have had five different models of the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) operating in Western Canada. The first and second versions were government mandated and run.

The third version was a voluntary farmer-run co-operative which failed and at the time was the largest bankruptcy in Canadian history. The fourth was a voluntary government-mandated version which also failed, costing taxpayers hundreds of million of dollars.

The fifth model is the orderly marketer of today that has provided extra money and stability to farmers since 1943 – with a change in the control structure that put farmers squarely in control in 1998.

It is clear that the Conservative government has been holding out a false promise to farmers – the promise of the “dual market” – and there is no analysis or plan to put before farmers in the 100 days leading up to the introduction of legislation that will kill the world’s largest and most successful marketer of wheat and barley.

Rather than name calling and making other derogatory remarks, perhaps Gerry Ritz should be defining what he means by the terms “strong and viable.” After six years, why can’t they answer the simplest questions about the negative effects their changes will have on farmers’ pocketbooks?

The only position that the government pretends to be certain about is its desire not to hold a farmer vote on the subject. In fact, the Conservatives say they are prepared to repeal the CWB Act – winding up the CWB organization – simply to avoid Section 47.1 and the farmer vote.

Farmers will be left with something akin to “Fast Gerry’s Discount Grain Company” with the large grain merchants cherry-picking the better markets and making price pooling impossible.

Demand a clear, detailed explanation of how a weakened wheat board is supposed to survive when all similar board’s have perished. And demand a vote – the vote that is guaranteed to farmers under Canadian law.

Stewart Wells Swift Current, Sask.

Agriculture Minister Up To No Good

To say Canada’s minister of agriculture is up to no good is to understate the seriousness of his escapade.

He wants to give farmers choice in the marketing of export wheat and barley. On the surface, choice appears desireable. However, after further reflection, choice is not an asset but a liability. It’s an assault on Prairie farmers. It would allow farmers to go their separate ways in making marketing decisions. That would divide and allow competition among sellers.

If you are selling, you want all the competition to be on the buyers’ side. Introducing competition on the sellers side would erode, if not destroy, the board’s ability to bargain effectively.

Using the board as the bargaining agent enabled farmers to bargain from the position of strength. Without the board, farmers would be bargaining from position of weakness. What is the minister’s wish? It is obvious that he’s determined to have farmers bargain from a position of weakness. Peter Galawan

Virden, Man.

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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