It's a powerful image: a giant, 12 tonne steamroller rolling over a field of wheat. It's an equally powerful message: 'This is how the Harper Government harvests wheat'. This new television spot, released this morning by the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB), is sending an urgent message to Canadians: if you support farmers and you disagree with the government's illegal decision to dismantle the Canadian Wheat Board - the time to speak out is now.
The TV commercial is part of a new campaign, launched this week by the CWB, to encourage Canadians to stand up to the Harper government's plan to unravel the board by Christmas even though the majority of farmers oppose the decision. The campaign has received an impressive 2,500+ texts in the first three days, with each one sending a letter to an MP.
"Many Canadians don't realize what's about to happen to farmers if this devastating legislation is passed, and passed at this speed," said Allen Oberg, a farmer from Forestburg, Alberta and Chair of the Canadian Wheat Board. "The Harper government is trying to steamroll this legislation through even though it's illegal, unethical and the opposite of what the majority of farmers want. We are very pleased with the response we've had in the first few days of our campaign and hope thousands more Canadians will help us take a stand."
The campaign, which includes print, radio, TV, a microsite and online advertising, asks Canadians to visit www.stopthesteamroller.ca or text FARMER to 24680 to show their support. The text generates a letter to MPs opposing the decision to dismantle the Wheat Board by the end of the year.
Why are the government's actions illegal?
Despite the fact that the law requires the government to consult with farmers on any changes to the CWB, the government refused to hold a vote among farmers and says it will ignore the vote conducted by the CWB. Not only is the decision illegal, it's also the opposite of what the farmers themselves want: a recent plebiscite among wheat and barley famers showed that 62 per cent want to keep the CWB.
What happens to Canadian farmers without the CWB?
Small farmers will be left to negotiate their own prices with giant American food conglomerates - this will mean the beginning of the end of the small, family farms that form the backbone of Canadian agriculture.
Farms that have been in families for generations may be bought out by American and multinational companies.
Farmers will have to compete not only against each other but also against much larger companies that can afford to set their prices lower because they have such great volume of grain.
The hundreds of millions of dollars that the CWB makes for prairie farmers will instead go to private grain company profits. The CWB is paid for and run by the farmers themselves - it receives no public subsidies.
The wheat and barley industry will go from being run by Canadians to being run by Americans.
Beyond farmers, the elimination of the CWB will hurt many small communities throughout Western Canada economically.
More information is available www.stopthesteamroller.ca.