There’s been no official announcement from Ottawa, but news reports suggest the federal government will move to end the Canadian Wheat Board’s current monopoly over Prairie wheat and barley sales in time for the start of the 2012-13 crop year.
Renamed the country’s agriculture minister earlier this week following the May 2 federal election, Gerry Ritz said legislation to end the board’s monopoly will likely be introduced this fall.
In a statement, the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association – a vocal opponent of the CWB monopoly – said the biggest key to “improving farm incomes and prosperity in western Canada” will be to move forward quickly on legislation to create an open market for wheat and barley.
“The transition to marketing choice should happen as quickly and smoothly as possible,” said Wheat Growers President Kevin Bender. “We are confident Minister Ritz has the ability and determination to successfully see this through.”
However, the National Farmers Union (NFU) is calling on the Harper Conservative government to be honest about the CWB, contending the board cannot continue to exist as a voluntary marketing option for farmers – as the government is suggesting – without its single desk selling powers.
“Ritz is not being honest with farmers. The fact is farmers won’t be better off without the single desk, because the CWB won’t survive without it. This idea of a dual market is a myth. It’s the CWB with its single desk, or no CWB at all,” NFU President Terry Boehm said in a release.
As evidence, the NFU pointed to Australia, where the government removed the single desk selling power from that country’s wheat board in 2008. Today, the Aussie wheat board no longer exists, as it was broken up and sold off in pieces to other grain companies.