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SHOUT IT OUT LOUD

SHOUT IT, SHOUT IT, SHOUT IT OUT LOUD!!!!!!!

That appears to be the strategy being taken by the Manitoba government, the Port of Churchill, Keystone Agricultural Producers and the Canadian Wheat Board’s pro-monopoly directors, who jointly announced a provincially-funded advertising campaign Monday to attack the federal government’s vow to break the board’s marketing monopolies.

Representatives of the groups held a joint press conference in the CWB’s head office lobby.

I haven’t seen the ads yet, but I imagine they will look like this:

Left to right: Stan Struthers; Greg Selinger; Allen Oberg; Rosann Wowchuk

Left to right: Stan Struthers; Greg Selinger; Allen Oberg; Rosann Wowchuk

That’s three provincial government biggies and the CWB chair dancing about on the wreckage of federal agriculture minister Gerry Ritz’s dream. (Who knows? Perhaps they’ll be more subtle.)

I was filled with nostalgia at this defiant gathering this morning, recalling a similar On To Ottawa trek I covered in Regina, when the Crow Benefit was ordered dead by the federal Liberal government. Well do I remember a revved-up Saskatchewan premier Roy Romanow, Sinclair Harrison of SARM, Leroy Larsen of the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool and some guy from SUMA sitting together as a united front of Sask opinion, vowing to break Paul Martin’s resolve to kill the Crow. We all remember how that turned out: the federal government buckled and not only kept the Crow, but doubled its payouts and made them directly to farmers. And we all bought winter homes in Arizona. Oh, wait a minute, that was just a dream.

Actually the federal government ignored the campaign and it never amounted to anything much.

I don’t have a clue how this campaign of provincial defiance will work out, but what I was interested in this morning was whether any of these folks plan to launch legal challenges to the government’s plans. Political and legal wrangling made the abortive breaching of the barley monopoly a few years ago a marketing nightmare for some, who thought they were going into an open market but ended up still with the board system when a judge denied the government’s attempt to sneak around the wheat board act.

Is legal action going to occur this time and add a similar level of uncertainty to the sort of market we’re going into for 2012-13? That’s unclear. I asked Selinger and Oberg about this this morning, and both said they couldn’t say until they see the legislation the federal government is going to introduce.

Smartypants people I have spoken to have told me that there’s not much opponents can do against the government rescinding the present act and passing a new act that breaks the monopolies, but smartypants have been wrong in the past and we may see some unclarity appear once the government’s legislation appears.

But until the new regime is in place in 2012-13, there’s unlikely to be much marketing certainty for farmers, unless the now-defiant defenders of the marketing monopolies decide to shut their mouths and live with a situation they can’t meekly accept.

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