Board plans to confront government on directors

The Canadian Wheat Board intends to confront the federal government this fall with a demand that government- appointed directors butt out of most decisions, board chair Allen Oberg said at the CWB 2009-10 crop year wrap-up.

“What I’m hearing from farmers is they want more control over their own democracy and they want clearer rules when it comes to election of directors,” said Oberg on July 30 in Winnipeg.

The farmer-dominated board will demand “fewer directors from Ottawa, and those directors to be used only in exceptional circumstances.

“We’re going to be talking to all parties when we go to Ottawa, and as you know there is some legislation pending and certainly we’ll be addressing those issues when we get that opportunity,” said Oberg.

Board officials said at the 2009-10 crop year summary that the year had been notable for production challenges farmers faced and for a bigger than expected crop, which forced the CWB to look hard for an extra two million tonnes of export sales.

CWB chief executive officer Ian White said the good weather last fall caused the crop’s size to continually increase, but the board managed to move most of the grain.

“It took a successful marketing campaign for us to accept 100 percent of the wheat, and in the end we marketed 4.1 million tonnes of durum,” said White.

The CWB achieved the highest exports in a decade in 2009-10, with 18.8 million tonnes of wheat, durum and barley leaving Canada. In 1999-2000 19.25 million tonnes were exported.

“This was significant, given the aggressively competitive world market, a market that had a very heavy supply of grain, particularly for wheat and durum,” said White.

Oberg said 2009-10 was also significant for the board because it opened a laboratory in Saskatoon and activated its WeatherFarm system, which now has 9,000 farm subscribers.

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