by Ian L. Robson
I seem to be writing a lot about this issue these days. I wish I could be farming. The soil is still very wet and will not support big loads, but weirdly the hay and pasture-land is dried out and not producing—probably compacted and the moisture ran off.
I spoke with a woman following the Brandon Chamber of Commerce (or CJOB radio info-tainment talk show) leaders forum with McFadyen, Selinger, and Gerrard on Monday.She gave me her opinion of Hugh McFadyen’s response to farmers and Manitoban’s over the Federal Government meddling in the affairs of the elected Canadian Wheat Board Directors. She thought it unwise to vote for McFadyen because he would not question things that the federal government proposes.
Another woman I spoke with whose brother is a dairy farmer thought that changing the CWB would be okay if we saw the plan from Minister Ritz. She was surprised when I told her that farmers currently have the freedom to sell their grain through the CWB Producer Direct Sales program. Minister Ritz has been careful not to advertise this because it essentially kills his argument that the CWB is restrictive. The CWB is restrictive on the Producer Direct Sales program in this way: The farmer must find a buyer who will pay a large premium over the going market price—which happens sometimes. This allows farmers who want to increase the market value to do so while also benefitting from the extra profit.
At the leaders’ debate in Brandon, McFadyen said that the CWB decision is a done deal and farmers should prepare for life after the CWB. Both Selinger and Gerrard said listen to the majority of farmers who themselves paid for a democratic process to determine whether support for the Single Desk continues.
Manitoba and its farmers have a lot to lose. Farmers know it and this is why the majority voted in support of the Single Desk that CWB provides.
Without the Desk we are merely transferring wealth from the farmer to the grain trader and we already see these traders licking their chops—share price of multinational Viterra increased immediately after Ritz made his announcement. For more information about this issue and to get involved, go to the Canadian Wheat Board Alliance website.
Ian L. Robson is a cattle and grain farmer from Deleau, Manitoba