Disagreeing with Ritz
So there we have it. Battlefords-Lloydminster MP and former Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz gets to ride off into the sunset after telling the world his version of saving the world (or at least western grain farming) by ending the CWB.
Unfortunately, the world is not quite as Ritz tells it.
For one thing, the CWB system was a sellers’ monopoly on behalf of farmers (the farmers being the sellers). With the end of the CWB, the giant grain companies are now essentially a buyers’ monopoly, to the farmers’ disadvantage.
The most important and tangible difference of this situation is that farmers, who used to receive 85 percent of the export price under the CWB system, now under the buyers monopoly receive only 48 percent.
Of course, Ritz was not fazed by this at all. He brazenly tells us that grain prices are higher now than they were under the CWB.
Sorry, but first of all, grain prices are subject to world market forces. And secondly, prices may be higher but the farmers are receiving a smaller share of the pie under his “marketing freedom.”
In other words, farmers could be doing a lot better than they actually are now.
We are also witnessing that billions of dollars are being spent on upgrading grain handling facilities since the end of the CWB. We see that the railways have added thousands of cars to their grain fleet. And yet, the ships lined up waiting to load at Vancouver are still running between 20 and 30 ships per day, compared to an average of only a few or none in the CWB days. This is a sure sign of a lack of co-ordination and inefficiency in the grain movement that is costing farmers.
And where is the transparency?
Swift Current, Sask.