Goodbye to all that

The Canadian Wheat Board’s monopoly ends today. The Prime Minister is in Kindersley to celebrate. Ralph Goodale laments.

Farmers’ costs will go up, for such things as administering cash advances and financing grain payments on delivery. Farmers will also have to pick up part of the tab for initial payment guarantees. Logistically, without the Wheat Board as a watchdog, grain companies and the railways are now in full control of the handling and transportation system. They have no incentive to service farmer-owned terminals, community-based short-lines or producer-loaded rail cars. There’s no one in the system with either the will or the clout to challenge excessive rates or charges.

Internationally, without the Board, Canada’s distinctive “brand” in world grain markets is slashed. This is compounded by the totally predictable sell-off of domestic firms like Viterra to foreign commodity traders like Glencore. With the Wheat Board out of the way, global grain buyers expect they’ll get Canadian grain at cheaper prices. Value-added processers expect the same. Railways and grain companies expect to extract higher margins. If that’s all true, you can imagine who gets stuck with the short-end of the stick.