Canadian Wheat Board, Où est les études, Food sovereignty

Roy Atkinson, "Gerry Ritz is at it again"
As Stephen Harper's minister of Agriculture, Ritz continues to demonstrate his complete misunderstanding of the fact that the Canadian Wheat Board is the most comprehensive and complex farmer grain marketing system in existence, serving prairie wheat and barley producers from a position of power in the marketplace. He wants to destroy this effective marketing system. Ritz either is illiterate or he isn't being honest about the facts. Take your pick.
Roy Atkinson, Star-Phoenix, June  14, 2011

Ritz hurting farmers 
The facts about the Canadian Wheat Board are the driving force behind the need for an open market. Canola has surpassed wheat as the most valuable crop on the prairies. Furthermore, a value-added industry is driving market opportunities for the pulse industry whereas Canadian wheat processing has become stagnant. The value-added and job-creation opportunities in Western Canada for our world-class wheat are endless, but these are now being taken by other countries.
Gerry Ritz, Agriculture Minister, Star-Phoenix June 21, 2011

Manifestation d'appui à la CCB à Regina

Le Syndicat national des cultivateurs (NFU) a profité de la tenue du Farm Progress Show à Regina pour montrer son appui à la Commission canadienne du blé (CCB) sur le site de l'exposition.
Une vingtaine de manifestants ont défilé en compagnie du président du syndicat, Terry Boehm, pour répéter que selon eux, la fin du monopole de la CCB serait désastreuse pour les agriculteurs.
Radio-Canada, le jeudi 16 juin 2011

Financial Post 500: CWB is one of Canada's biggest corporations 

No.  46 - Canada's 500 Largest Corporations
No. 4 - Revenues : $ 5,150,987 billion
Financial Post, June 21, 2011

Ritz's slightly more moderate stance  
Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz's slightly more moderate stance on the Canadian Wheat Board is being viewed with suspicion ... and for good reason … a federal government that has meddled in the elections of the supposedly arm's-length wheat board by messing with voters' lists and placing gag orders on CWB executives during elections might have a bizarre sense of what constitutes fair democracy. (And then there's the rather messy matter of whether the federal Conservative government might even be breaking its own law by abolishing the CWB as a single-desk seller without allowing farmers to vote in a plebiscite.)
Murray Mandryk, Leader-Post, June 18

What's the good of having a CWB with no mission?
So far, the federal government's position has been that there will continue to be a "strong, viable" wheat board competing for farmers' grain -- but it's up to the board and farmers to figure out what it will look like. "All that will change is they (the CWB) have less grain to handle as soon as we move to a voluntary situation," says Ritz. The board, which by the way lacks any physical capacity to handle grain, says it has figured it out, and there's no future for it without the single desk.

No one seems capable -- least of all the federal government -- of calling this what it is -- a political execution being made to look like suicide.
Laura Rance, Winnipeg Free Press  June 18, 2011. Rance is  the editor of the Manitoba Co-operator. She can be reached at 792-4382 or by email:

CWB doubts future
"In my view the CWB cannot survive without the single desk," said board chair Allan Oberg in a speech to farmers at the Western Canadian Farm Progress Show in Regina. "There is no model that comes even close to providing the value to farmers that the single desk does right now. There are a couple that might, under very specific conditions, allow the CWB to survive in some form ... but I have yet to be convinced that it would have any specific value for farmers," Oberg said.
Angela Hall, The Leader-Post,  Jun 17 2011

Une campagne pour sauver la Commission canadienne du blé
Le premier ministre manitobain, Greg Selinger, a annoncé le lancement d'une campagne de publicité à la télévision, à la radio et dans les journaux en soutien à la Commission canadienne du blé (CCB) et au droit des fermiers de décider de l'avenir de leur agence de commercialisation des grains. La campagne de trois semaines a été lancée après que le gouvernement fédéral eut indiqué son intention de mettre fin au monopole de la CCB, en mai dernier. 
Radio-Canada, le 13 juin 2011

Sask. Party supports ending CWB monopoly
The Saskatchewan Party supports ending the Canadian Wheat Board's monopoly on western wheat and barley marketing, but the province isn't planning an active role in the fight. "It's a federal issue . . . although our position on (grain marketing) is for choice and a majority of our supporters would like choice," Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister Bob Bjornerud said Wednesday. … But Saskatchewan NDP Leader Dwain Lingenfelter said the federal election isn't enough of an endorsement to end the CWB's single-desk system. "There should be a farmer vote and the question should be developed by farmers and not by politicians," Lingenfelter said.
Angela Hall, The Leader-Post, Jun 16 2011 

Food sovereignty and war around the world
The Harper government wants to break the Canadian wheat board, handing the sales over to ADM, Bunge, Cargill and Dreyfus. These are known as ABCD in the business world and control most of the world's grain market. In Argentina they are also known as "tax evaders." That country wants $576 million from Bunge, $252 million from Cargill and $152 million from Dreyfus. They all deny any wrongdoing but Argentina has been collecting info from the countries receiving its grain exports. … A footnote on food: one British company now owns nearly 1 million hectares in Africa. Sixty million hectares of African farmland is now foreign owned or controlled, much of it to make fuel for our vehicles. Meanwhile the same hedge fund wiz-kids who brought us the financial crash are gambling on food futures and energy supplies.
Paul Whittaker, EMC NEWS,  Jun 16, 2011

Crop forecast a lot clearer than for CWB
About 100 members of the farm press and the agricultural industry were the beneficiaries this week of a thorough, dispassionate forecast of crop expectations for the coming season. The presentation by the Canadian Wheat Board showed how precipitation and weather-system dynamics will affect Western Canadian croplands. It also included general analysis of the conditions of the world's breadbaskets, with Australia and eastern European grain-growing regions coming back. Although Canadian acreage will be off by six-to-eight million acres, the global wheat crop is expected to be up slightly.
Martin Cash, Winnipeg Free Press, June 16, 2011

Manitoba: Let farmers decide future of the CWB
Proposed federal government legislation would eliminate the Canadian Wheat Board's (CWB) single-desk marketing system. This farmer-owned agency allows prairie farmers to compete head-on with large international grain companies.

Dismantling the CWB would hurt more than just farmers: Winnipeg would lose the head office of a world-renowned company -- and more than 2,000 jobs directly or indirectly supported by the CWB.
Manitoba's economy would lose hundreds of millions of dollars every year. Manitoba's future as a continental transportation hub could be compromised. The Port of Churchill and our arctic trade opportunities would be jeopardized.

Farmers own the CWB. It is a $5 billion company with a strong international reputation - and it returns every penny of profit to prairie farmers. Eliminating the CWB would rob farmers of these advantages. Forever. That's why farmers have always supported the CWB in the past. And why farmers should decide its future. Support the farmers' right to decide by adding your name to the online petition.

Manitoba fights for wheat board
Provincial government officials say some 2,000 jobs are on the line in this high-profile political fight that will have huge ramifications for Manitoba's economy well beyond the agricultural sector.

"Someone has to support producers at a time when there is a threat they will lose their voice entirely in something that they pay for and control," (Manitoba Premier Greg) Selinger said. "Someone has to stand and up and support them and it's reasonable for us to do so." Selinger was joined by Churchill Mayor Mike Spence, who warned his community could be virtually wiped out if the CWB stops shipping grains out of the northern seaport.
Martin Cash, Winnipeg Free Press, June 14, 2011

It's not clear if the Wheat Board can survive under the government's proposal
The agency is essentially a marketing operation and it has no real infrastructure. Instead, it contracts out grain handling to private companies such as Viterra Inc., Cargill Inc. and Richardson. Under the federal government's proposal, the Wheat Board would likely become a competitor to those companies but without any grain handling capability. Mr. Oberg and others point to Australia where the Australian Wheat Board lost its monopoly in 2008 and ended up being sold to Calgary-based Agrium Inc. (which subsequently sold the marketing arm to Cargill). Mr. Ritz has argued the comparison isn't valid because the two boards operated differently.
Globe and Mail, Paul Waldie, June 14, 2011

Alberta holds firm to cut wheat board monopoly
The Alberta government continues to support removing the Canadian Wheat Board's monopoly, but doesn't intend to become more vocal about it in the wake of Manitoba's stated opposition, a spokesman said Monday.
Calgary Herald, Kim Guttormson, 14 Jun, 2011

Lots of losers, few winners in CWB fight
 According to a 2007 study by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the CWB generates an estimated economic impact of $1.6 billion a year. As the world's largest exporter of wheat and barley, the CWB markets more than 20 million tonnes of grains and has sales in excess of $5 billion annually, giving it real market clout.  …  numerous studies by agricultural economists have shown the CWB earns a premium price for producers through its market clout, timing sales to catch market peaks, ensuring both the quality and quantity of grain delivered and getting volume discounts on shipping and handling.
Bruce Johnstone, Leader-Post, June 11, 2011

So, who benefits? Grain companies, for one.
Viterra CEO Mayo Schmidt said he supports the removal of the single desk by the Conservatives and "intends to actively participate in the process to promote an orderly transition with positive, sustainable change for the benefit of the Western Canadian agricultural industry."Given the success of Viterra's takeover of the Australia's former barley marketing agency, ABB Grain, Schmidt must be licking his chops with the prospect of getting a piece of the CWB's business.
Bruce Johnstone, Leader-Post, June 11, 2011

So, who loses? 
The majority of Western Canadian farmers who support the CWB, of course. And don't forget, once the single desk is gone, under our trade agreements, like NAFTA and the WTO, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to get it back. This anti-democratic decision will have consequences for Canada's agriculture industry for decades to come.
Bruce Johnstone, Leader-Post, June 11, 2011

Où est les études démontrant l'impact de la fin du monopole de la Commission
Le député du NPD Pat Martin interrogeait avec la fougue qu'on lui connaît le gouvernement à propos de la Commission canadienne du blé. Il voulait savoir si le gouvernement avait entre les mains des études démontrant l'impact de la fin du monopole de la Commission sur les producteurs en régions éloignées. «J'espère que les conservateurs ont fait cette recherche avant de miner l'économie en détruisant une grande institution canadienne. Vont-ils les déposer?»

Guelph MP Frank Valeriote, Liberal Agriculture critic 
Agriculture in Canada, not to mention the Liberal party, has taken a step forward with the appointment of Guelph MP Frank Valeriote as the Grits’ agriculture and rural critic. Big challenges lie ahead, not only for the Liberals, but for the agriculture and rural critic. For example, the federal government wants to remove the Canadian Wheat Board’s monopoly, a huge issue in western Canada.

It’s also working toward a new and massive agriculture and agri-food policy, and Valeriote is determined it will be designed with consumers in mind, as well as farmers. He understands the farm-to-fork continuum and knows agriculture needs a deeper understanding in urban Canada if it’s to achieve the kind of support it needs, particularly at the policy level, to continue to drive the economy.
Owen Roberts, Guelph Mercury, Jun 06 2011

Throne speech promises quick action on old promises
Flexing their majority government status for the first time, the Conservatives announced plans to move on a series of policies that were stalled or thwarted during its minority years. Among the announcements in the speech from Gov. Gen. David Johnston yesterday, were promises to repeal the long-gun registry, allow wheat farmers to sell outside the Canadian Wheat Board and to eliminate the per-vote subsidy for political parties.

“Our government will act on its promise to introduce legislation to end the wasteful and ineffective long-gun registry,” Johnston said, reading from the prepared speech. “It will also introduce legislation to ensure that western farmers have the freedom to sell wheat and barley on the open market.”
Ryan Tumilty, St. Albert Gazette, Jun 04, 2011  

CFA welcomes return of Ritz as Minister of Agriculture
The Canadian Federation of Agriculture extends its congratulations to Gerry Ritz on his reappointment as Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food …  Over the course of the 2011 election, Canadian farmers were pleased to see a number of commitments in the Conservative platform correspond with farmers’ requests,  including long-term planning addressing the need for a National Food Strategy and a commitment to research through the proposed Agriculture Innovation Initiative. The CFA would also like to emphasize the importance of working in true partnership with farm organizations. When dealing with the Canadian Wheat Board, the CFA urges Minister Ritz to listen to producers and implement the mandate decided by farmers, as farmers’ should decide the role and structure of their marketing approach.

CFA also looks forward to working with the Ministers in other agriculture-related portfolios, including: Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade; Denis Lebel, Minister of Transport; Peter Kent, Minister of the Environment; Christian Paradis, Minister of Industry and Minister of State for Agriculture; and Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health.

Canadian Wheat Board takeover would damage prairie short line railways  
"One of the functions of the CWB is to order up producer loading cars. Now the CWB is a big entity and CN and CP listen fairly closely. If the CWB isn't there it will be small co-ops and individual farmers asking for cars: the railways are required by law to provide cars but certainly they'll assign low priority to these requests. Cargill or other grain companies won't have the slightest interest in producer cars.  Indeed, without a powerful agent on their side, the short lines so painfully started up and now running may well collapse for lack of cars," says Peter Lacey Transport Action Canada vice president for Western Canada.
Transport Action Hotline, June 3, 2011

Le monopole de la CCB dans la mire du gouvernement

Le gouvernement Harper réitère, dans le Discours du Trône lu vendredi à la Chambre des communes, son désir de mettre fin au monopole de la Commission canadienne du blé. Un projet de loi conservateur à cet égard fait partie des priorités du gouvernement.   Il [notre gouvernement] présentera aussi un projet de loi qui donnera aux producteurs de l'Ouest canadien la liberté de vendre leurs

Harper’s Renewed Attack on the Canadian Wheat Board
Just one day after the May 2nd federal election, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz made it clear that the Conservative government would move to eliminate the Canadian Wheat Board's single-desk marketing power with legislation as soon as this fall.

As Canada's largest farm marketing board, the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) represents perhaps one of the biggest, oldest and most stable collective bargaining units in the country. Helen Forsey and Simon Enoch discuss the dire consequences that will result for Canadian producers and consumers alike if Harper's vision for the CWB becomes reality.