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Letters – for Oct. 20, 2011

We welcome readers comments on issues that have been covered in the Manitoba Co-operator.In most cases we cannot accept open letters or copies of letters which have been sent to several publications. Letters are subject to editing for length or taste. We suggest a maximum of about 300 words.

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CWB Shares Similarities With Supply Management

Kudos to Allan Dawson for reporting on the flagrant contradiction in the federal government s support for supply management on the one hand and its fanatical persecution of the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) on the other (Manitoba Co-operator, September 21, 2011).

However, I must take exception to Ritz s lame explanation as to why the CWB and supply management are, in his words, entirely different things. They are not.

Both act as single-desk selling agents on producers behalf. Both are overseen by a producer-elected board of directors. Both return all sales proceeds net of expenses back to farmers.

Both work extremely hard to ensure that the highest standards of food safety, consistency and quality are the hallmarks of everything they sell on producers behalf. Both have the support of the majority of producers they represent in the case of wheat, 62 per cent of Prairie grain producers want to keep the single desk.

As for his contention that the CWB is a price taker, what will the minister say when 70,000 grain farmers start competing against each other instead of co-operating to sell 20 million tonnes of grain worth somewhere between $5 billion to $8 billion under the CWB brand?

John Sandborn Elected director, District 9 Benito, Man.

Contempt For Grain Farmers

If there was any doubt regarding the contempt that Minister Gerry Ritz has for grain producers like me, it was dispelled by his Oct. 13 letter. When the Harper government refused to let farmers have our say on the CWB, the CWB s farmer-controlled board of directors decided to run a Prairiewide plebiscite in which every wheat and barley producer had a chance to say whether he or she wanted to keep the CWB s powers as a single-desk seller. Guess what? Tens of thousands did. But Minister Ritz has refused to listen, just like he refuses to acknowledge that the CWB is an organization that we run for and pay for out of our own pockets.

So when he rejoices at the thought of blowing out the candles, it is grain producers ability to work together to further our business interests the same right that dairy and poultry producers continue to enjoy that he is extinguishing once and for all.

Of course, this is a minister with a track record of making juvenile comments in serious situations. I would have hoped he would have learned from this to think before he speaks (or writes), but it appears he has not.

Allen Oberg Chair, CWB board of directors Forestburg, Alta.

Ritz s attempt to rewrite history is wrong

Gerry Ritz certainly has a right to his own opinions, but as federal agriculture minister, he has no right to his own facts about our Canadian Wheat Board.

The wheat board was formed after decades of effort by the farmers of Western Canada led by the Alberta Wheat Pool, the United Farmers of Alberta and many others.

It is not only false to claim the wheat board single desk was put in place to supply cheap grain to Britain, as Minister Ritz states, but it is also economically illiterate. Before the war our grain was exported to Europe and Asia. With the outbreak of war all those markets were gone.

At that time, with a few honourable exceptions, the predecessors of today s business community were enthusiastic supporters of Hitler and the final solution. They used the commodity exchanges to wage financial war against Canada and Britain. That is why the commodity exchanges were closed.

It was the farmers of Western Canada who insisted that they be given control over their own product through the Canadian Wheat Board. We still have that control today and it is Ritz who wants to defy our democratic vote to keep the wheat board and give control of our grain back to the private trade.

Ken Larsen Benalto, Alta.

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