Competing for crumbs

Although there is a constant majority of single desk supporters in elections and plebiscites, there are a few grain farmers unhappy with the single desk selling authority of the Canadian Wheat Board.

Decades of misinformation spread through the media have done its work. Besides special interest groups and ideologically driven organizations, the Alberta government has for more than 20 years actively advertised, with public money, against the CWB.

While the Alberta government has been withdrawing financial support for all other commodity groups since the early ’90s, they have actively kept up the funding of the Alberta Barley Commission and the Western Canadian Wheat Growers for the sole purpose of advancing the destruction of the single desk CWB sale of wheat and barley.

Any entrepreneur that looks at the current business model of the CWB – the transportation authority, the authority to claim a timely space in privately owned terminals and elevators, the marketing strategy and the single desk privilege… – would pay a fortune for that business. The profits of the CWB are not paid to distant shareholders. They go back to the prairie producer.

The loss of the CWB single desk is compounded by a recent 50 percent reduction in the federal government’s support for the Canadian Grain Commission.

The CGC is another icon established by first generation settlers so farmers could not be screwed out of quality premiums when they delivered grain.

(Agriculture minister Gerry) Ritz is correct – the end of the CWB single desk means the start of new investment on the Prairies, to capitalize on values … that no longer have to be passed onto farmers. It will go to shareholders who are not contributing and reinvesting in the local communities. Transnational businesses, stock market speculators and conservative federal and provincial governments are celebrating the end of the CWB single desk.

It is, however, a very sad day to see farmers think their GPS controlled one pass air seeders, BlackBerries and IPads will bring them individually as much market power as what they collectively had in the CWB….

Jan Slomp,

Provincial co-ordinator for the NFU, Rimbey, Alta.

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