Canadian Wheat Board likely up for grabs

New management will be tasked to dismantle and sell agency arms within five years


The Tories’ plan to end the Canadian Wheat Board’s monopoly on the sale of grains would dismantle the board within five years. The government would appoint five corporate directors in charge of restructuring and selling off various arms of the organization within that time frame. In the near term, the board would continue to operate as a voluntary organization, as it sets up a plan for privatization. After the five years, operations that couldn’t be sold would be wound down. If the legislation is passed, farmers will be able to sell their grain to whomever they choose starting Aug. 1, 2012.

Wall Street Journal

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Canadian Wheat Board likely up for grabs

  1. Question.  What does the CWB have that could possibly be sold?

  2. It’s about time as governments shouldn’t meddle in farmers affairs.  They should be allowed to sell to whom ever they choose.

    • The majority of farmers chose to continue selling to the Wheat Board, but that option is being taken away. 

      • I dont think that is the case.  If you want to continue to sell to the CWB go ahead.  But why is it ok to take away the right to sell to someone else ok.  If the CWB is so great how come there is no clamering from Ontario and Quebec farners to join the CWB?

      • Andrew, i don’t think there is any “choice” involved in the West.  The cereal grain farmers are FORCED to sell their wheat through the wheat board.  What they want is some choices as they are complaining the wheatboard is not responsive to their needs.  They have testified before the Senate, saying just this.

  3. Gerry Ritz has in a way nationalized the CWB and taken away the farmer elected directors and continues to disregard the democratic process. This government intends to gut the organization and privatize it down the road. This government is reallocating wealth from farmers to a handful of multinational grain companies. Giving this portfolio to a failed ostrich farmer is a a sign of Harper’s understanding of economics.

    • Or, as occasional contributor Justin Wordsworth might say…

      No, the government is not reallocating wealth from farmers to a handful of multinational grain companies, the government is simply putting an end to the reallocation of wealth from multinational grain companies to some farmers who are too inefficient, a reallocation that has been going on for far too long.

      Personally I would say that Justin would be technically correct, although I’m not as sure that the current reallocation is completelly without merit.

  4. I’m not in a position to say whether the CWB should be dismantled, but I am in a position to comment on whether the Canadian government should follow the established rules. What is missing from this short article is that the rules clearly state that a farmer’s plebiscite must be held before the CWB is dismantled. The word from the Tories is that they consider the last election to be that plebiscite, to which I say hogwash. I say follow the rules, respect the farmers of this land, and let them decide their own fate.

    • Given that those are indeed the rules, its disappointing that the rules are not being followed.

      OTOH, I wonder about the context under which the rules were developed – is that context still relevant today.  If not, are those rules still appropriate, and what would be more appropriate?

      • LOL

        ‘I reject your reality, and substitute my own!’

    • One vote per farmer or one vote per bushel?

  5. I can mostly follow the CPC logic around removing the CWB monopoly….

    But why is it necessary to go further?  Why not just leave the CWB as a voluntary organization, completely funded by any farmers that stick with the CWB?  Or is that what is meant by privatization?  Are those extra steps meant to make it more difficult for a permanent new, voluntary CWB to rise from the ashes of the existing CWB?  If so, what is the point of that?

    • This is a giant F-U to farmers. It’s positively bizarre. They voted overwhelmingly to keep the Wheat Board. The economic liberal in me frowns on monopsony, but I don’t think the Conservatives have any such principles.

      • The few that voted in a NON-BINDING mail-in survey voted to maintain the status freedom-trampling quo.  To use this as an argument in favour of JAILING the odd farmer for daring to sell his harvest to whomever he likes is, well, sad.

        Didn’t see the Amnesty International campaign against the Canadian government for its persecution of maverick Western grain farmers, and its effect of cowering just about every Western farmer into submission.

  6. The ONLY thing the Canadian Wheat Board had going fo it for the past 60 years was that they could legitimately say that they had a corner on ALL cereal grains grown in Western Canada.  This gave the CWB the real power to negotiate with global grain buyers on behalf of all grain growers.  The result was that profits that would otherwise go to multinational grain traders, went to Western Canadian grain growers instead.  The Harper government is taking away this negotiating power from the CWB and the result will benefit corporations like Cargill at great expense to Western Canadina grain growers, especially the smaller farmers.  Large corporations will dominate farming and grain trading in the future.  When this legislation is enacted, corporations like Cargill will offer farmers higher prices for a long enough period to run the CWB out of business, then revert to predatory prices that will give them and other large corporations enormous economic power in Western Canada. 

    • Yes, but from what I read the cereal wheat growers in Saskatchewan and Alberta were not happy about the rules enforced by the CWB in terms of how they had to ship the wheat, etc.  They want a choice of where to sell.  I read testimony from the head of the wheat growers association who said that the CWB has not listened to their desires for the last 10 years. 
      Are you in the farming business? 

      • I was born and raised on a grain farm in Saskatchewan and earned my living there for about 10 years.  The facts are exactly opposite to what you are suggesting.  It is true that some farmers want to bypass the CWB, but these are almost exclusively large incorporated farms.  The vast majority of family operated farms wish to stay with the existing CWB monopoly arrangement and that is why the plebescite conducted by the CWB showed over 60% of farmers wanted to keep the CWB.  If you have read that cereal grain growers are not happy with the CWB, I suggest you are reading biased news outlets who are interested only in the corporate agenda promoted by the Harper government.  The CWB was formed in response to cooperative action by the vast majority of western grain growers after being subjected to predatory grain marketing tactics of grain traders.  The Harper conservatives hate the whole idea of any kind of cooperative concept and the CWB is an example of a very successful one, so they are determined to ruin it.  You can count on it that Cargill and other corporate traders will offer farmers higher prices long enough to bankrupt the CWB and then revert to the age old predatory pricing tactics that will also bankrupt most family farms. 

    • Is it illegal for the farmer to become a shareholder in Cargill or ADM or CN or any other corporate transporter?

  7. “The government will appoint five corporate directors…………”

    Enough said. We know what that means.

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