Ritz credits export rise to CWB changes

The increase in barley exports last year illustrates the success that ending the CWB monopoly has brought, said federal agriculture minister Gerry Ritz.


Barley exports improved by 35 percent last year with expectations for continued growth, he said, attributing that success to the end of the monopoly. 


“The doom and gloom scenario painted by those who fundamentally and ideologically opposed marketing freedom has not materialized,” he told the Western Barley Growers Association’s annual meeting Feb. 14 in Calgary.


“There will be glitches. That is the nature of agriculture.” 


CWB chief executive officer Ian White agreed the transition has been seamless, even though there was apprehension among CWB staff as to how the new system would work.


“The transition has been a pretty exhausting process because we have been trying to change the organization that did the same thing for 75 years,” he said. 


White told growers that CWB’s continued focus is to place farmers first.


“Probably the CWB is the opportunity for farmers to participate in a grain company,” he said.


CWB is working on a plan to privatize and must decide who will be shareholders, determine capital needs and expand the business. 


White said he is not sure how farmers might participate in the ownership of CWB. It needs large amounts of capital, larger than most farmers can contribute, so other outside investment will be necessary.


White said CWB has 45 canola locations and 240 delivery points for wheat, durum and barley in Western Canada. It also remains part of the producer car loading environment.

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