A majority of voters in a plebiscite have voted to maintain the Canadian Wheat Board’s monopsony.
A total of 62 per cent of prairie wheat growers – 22,764 farmers – voted to keep the monopoly versus 38 per cent – 14,059 farmers – who voted to eliminate the monopoly and be able to sell their wheat on the open market.
Just over half of barley growers – 51 per cent – voted to maintain the monopoly compared to 49 per cent who voted to eliminate it. The vote was held by mail-in ballot of farmers in the CWB area including Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Turnout in the referendum was 56 per cent for wheat growers, 47 per cent for barley growers and 60 per cent for farmers who grew both.
The government responded last night with a note entitled “Statement from Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz on the Result of the Expensive Survey.”
“Our Government’s top priority is the economy in which the agriculture industry plays a vital role.
“We know that an open market will attract investment, encourage innovation and create value-added jobs.
“In an open market, every farmer will have the ability to choose how to market their grain, whether it’s individually or through a voluntary pooling entity.
“Let me repeat – every western Canadian grain farmer will have the right to choose how they market their grain just like farmers in the rest of Canada and around the world.
“No expensive survey can trump the individual right of farmers to market their own grain.
“Our Government is committed to giving Western Canadian grain farmers the marketing freedom they want and deserve.”