Canadian Wheat Board works, agriculteurs furieux

Grain News,

CWB board chair Allen Oberg has recently begun a blog. Other information, including a short video featuring Oberg on his farm, is also posted on the CWB Web site at
Falher Smoky River Express. Jul 27, 2011

La Terre de chez nous, La CCB joue une dernière carte

La Commission canadienne du blé (CCB) a décidé de lancer une consultation de l'ensemble des agriculteurs concernés afin de se prononcer sur le monopole de l'organisation sur le commerce du blé et de l'orge dans l'Ouest canadien. La CCB entend cependant profiter de la loi actuelle, qui prévoit qu'un "plébiscite" (référendum) doit être tenu avant toute modification majeure à la structure en place. La consultation bat son plein cet été. "Le gouvernement affirme que les élections fédérales équivalent à un mandat de changement des agriculteurs des Prairies. Nous ne sommes pas d'accord. Un plébiscite juste va trancher cette question", a déclaré Allen Oberg, agriculteur et président de la CCB. Depuis la mi-juillet, des bulletins de vote ont été acheminés à 68 000 agriculteurs. Deux questions sont posées afin de distinguer le blé de l'orge. Dans chaque cas, les producteurs auront le choix entre le monopole actuel de commercialisation par la CCB ou le libre marché. Le vote prendra fin le 24 août.
Thierry Larivière, La Terre de chez nous, le 4 août 2011

Falher Smoky River Express, CWB Farmer Directors to Hold Producer Meetings

"As farmers, we are at the 11th hour and facing a monumental change," said CWB board chair Allen Oberg, who farms near Forestburg, Alberta in a release. "In a matter of weeks, the government intends to introduce legislation that will permanently remove the single-desk marketing structure for wheat and barley. As elected directors of the CWB, we have a duty to ensure that our stakeholders - the farmers of Western Canada - are as fully informed as possible, so we can all face the future with eyes wide open."
Regina, Aug 8, Travelodge 7 p.m.
Saskatoon, Aug. 9, 7 p.m. Saskatoon Inn.
Oak Bluff, Aug 10, 7 p.m. Oak Bluff Recreation Centre
Dauphin, Man. Aug. 11, 7 p.m.Ukrainian Orthodox Auditorium, 8th Ave.
Medicine Hat, Aug 15, 7 p.m. Medicine Hat Exhibition & Stampede (Higdon Hall), 2055-21st Ave. SE
Cammrose, Alta, Aug. 16, 7 p.m.,Camrose Regional Exhibition (CRE)- Gold Room, 4250 Exhibition Dr.
Falher Smoky River Express, Jul 27, 2011 

Regina Leader-Post, So many questions
What about producer cars, which give farmers 40 cents a bushel more - $1,200 per car? What happens to the towns that now provide those facilities? How many rail lines will close with no grain cars? With more trucks hauling grain further, who pays for the damaged roads and highways? What happens to shipping out of Hudson Bay? Will this close? How many more country rail lines will close? … Here's a suggestion: let the so-called free enterprisers who don't like the board's single desk make their choice to deal with American dominated grain companies. Those farmers would have to express their decision before seeding and anyone withdrawing from the CWB would have to stay out for at least four years.
Roy Nelson, Regina Leader-Post, August 2, 2011 (Nelson is a former farmer and one-time Liberal MLA for Assiniboia-Gravelbourg)

Guelph Mercury, Quality Canadian grain could lose out in post-wheat board era

One of the biggest changes ever in Canadian agriculture is pending as the federal government prepares to dismantle the Canadian Wheat Board by next summer. Wheat is our biggest agricultural export, and for the past 75 years, every grain of wheat grown on the prairies and headed for markets abroad has been sold by the wheat board. It’s the law. But the federal government thinks prairie farmers shouldn’t be bound by a single selling agent, such as the wheat board. They should have options, according to Ottawa. So, it’s charging ahead with its plan, and in a relatively short time prairie farmers will have to fend for themselves when it comes to selling grain. … Who’s standing in the shadows? Private companies, some of which are Canadian. But others are American or international, and huge. Candidly and honestly answering a reporter’s question recently, a spokesperson for a U.S. grain company said his firm was anxious to get access to world-class Canadian wheat, which is renowned for quality. Critics of the board’s dismantling called him something akin to a predator. But from a business sense, it’s a strategic move … provided, of course, there’s a buyer.
Guelph Mercury, Owen Roberts, Urban Cowboy, Aug 1 2011

Regina Leader-Post, CWB review biased
Re: "Working group established to plan for open market", Leader-Post, July 26.
The only people on this working group are industry-funded cheerleaders. Little wonder, when farmers, producer car loaders and others with in-depth knowledge of the West's very successful grain export business have long recognized that without the wheat board's single desk, Ritz's idea of a strong and viable wheat board is just a fantasy. Of course, with only four meetings scheduled until Parliament resumes, there really isn't a lot of time to consider details; little things like how this will affect people - yes, real people - not just corporations.
Regina Leader-Post, Bill Gehl, Aug 2, 2011 (Gehl is chairperson of the Canadian Wheat Board Alliance)

Calgary Sun, Wildrose calls for agriculture reforms 

Alberta farmers should be free to produce want they want and sell their products when and where they see fit, says the Wildrose party leader. Danielle Smith announced her party’s agriculture policy Tuesday in Coaldale, saying that the province’s future prosperity is enshrined in a healthy industry that’s efficient, market-oriented and flexible. “We are a party that believes that the most important thing that government can do is get out of the way and remove barriers to the success of our producers whether they’re in the livestock business or growing crops,” said Smith. “Burdensome regulations, limited marketing opportunities, dangerous land-use laws and ineffective support programs have seriously compromised our sector’s ability to compete on the global stage.”
Calgary Sun, Renato Gandia, Aug. 2, 2011

Meridian Booster, Saskatchewan NDP leader Dwain Lingenfelter,  November 7 election 

"What I find with working people, whether it's teachers, people on minimum wage, the working poor or senior citizens, they're saying the Wall government has a lot of money coming in," said Lingenfelter. "The people at the top of the Potash Corporation are making tens of millions of dollars each, but in the worker's household they're earning the same they were four years ago and their costs are going up."… As Saskatchewan is a major exporter of wheat Lingenfelter weighed in on the Canadian Wheat Board fight between the federal government and the organization. He said he would ask producers for their opinion and stand by what they decided.
Murray Crawford, Meridian Booster, Aug 3 2011

Hanna Herald, Brian Mason, Alberta NDP leader,  Ensure farm families aren’t history

… Alberta's PCs think it's okay to make competing against corporate farms even tougher for family farmers by supporting a federal move to cut the Canadian Wheat Board's single-desk selling system.

Tories like to talk about choice, but the choice is clear. The CWB wins hundreds of millions of dollars in extra income for farmers by flexing Canada's prairie muscle abroad. Without the single desk, large corporate farms can undercut family farmers by selling more grain at a lower price – protecting their profits but undercutting the price of grain for small farmers. Australia's Wheat Board lost the single desk in 2008. As a result, Australian wheat farmers are losing $2 billion dollars per year, according to the New South Wales Farmers Association.
Hanna Herald, Aug. 3 2011

Reuters, Wheat Board asks Ottawa to pay shutdown costs

The Canadian Wheat Board has asked the federal government to pay “hundreds of millions of dollars” in penalties for canceled grain contracts and other expenses that it says would arise if it shuts down next year when its marketing monopoly ends. If Ottawa removes the board’s monopoly to buy and sell Western Canada’s wheat, durum and barley, the board will close, even if an organization with an altered role takes its place, CWB Chairman Allen Oberg said on Friday. “Let’s be clear, this is not a transition process. This is the winding down of the current organization and the creation of something entirely new,” Mr. Oberg said in an interview. Mr. Oberg could not say how long the Wheat Board’s contracts to supply buyers with grain extend. With the CWB gone, countries like China and Japan would have to buy grain directly from Canadian grain handlers or other countries such as the United States, Australia and Russia. The board has already sold about 10% of the expected 2011-12 wheat crop and Oberg said he hasn’t heard of any impact on sales from the uncertainty around the board’s future.
Reuters, Rod Nickel,  Jul 29, 2011

Regina Leader-Post, Not one shred of evidence scrapping Board will help farmers 

Thus far, the federal government hasn't produced one shred of evidence, one scrap of research, to justify its decision to remove the single-desk monopoly on wheat and barley sales from the Canadian Wheat Board. But there's plenty of evidence and research that the single desk has been a boon for western Canadian farmers and its removal will cause significant, and permanent damage to the Western Canadian economy. Some of that evidence is the government's own website. For example, a paper prepared by the economic and policy analysis directorate of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada says that eliminating state trading enterprises (STEs), like the Canadian Wheat Board, may not lead to improved market returns for producers. "The assumption of a competitive alternative inevitably leads to the conclusion that elimination of STEs would lead to improved performance,'' said the 1998 paper prepared by AAFC in advance of international trade negotiations at the World Trade Organization. "In fact, markets are rarely competitive,'' the paper said, due to domination by a few large companies, which are able to generate and capture "excess profits."
Regina Leader-Post, Bruce Johnstone, July 30, 2011

Winnipeg Free Press, Wheat Board still not listening

The Canadian Wheat Board has a long history of not listening to farmers. After the federal Conservatives won a majority in May, one might have thought the board would rethink its our-way-or-the-highway approach. Sadly, that hasn't been the case. … Instead of listening to a decade's worth of survey results, or the three out of four western provinces that are in favour of marketing choice -- or the federal government, which rightly points out it doesn't need to hold a plebiscite in order to repeal or change the Wheat Board Act -- the board has other ideas. It has instead decided to waste a lot of farmers' hard-earned money on another illegitimate and irrelevant survey that doesn't even list the most popular option, a voluntary board, as a choice.
Rolf Penner, Winnipeg Free Press, July 29, 2011
Rolf Penner is a Manitoba farmer and vice-president of the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association.

Peter Lacey, Wheat Board still not listening ?

The Winnipeg Free Press article by Rolf Penner, is one of the most astonishing  opinion pieces I've ever read.  I am not qualified to comment on the operational aspects of the  Wheat Board which he discusses but his other points demand rebuttal.
First: his selection of statistics.  He states that the CWB's survey revealed that 52% of  decided farmers under 45 preferred the open market.  When one sees such a statement, with the  qualifiers attached, one smells a rat: in this case, how many farmers under and over the age of  45 responded?  Without those numbers the statement is meaningless.

Second: he states that it's illegal for western farmers to sell to anyone but the Board.  This  is flatly not so.  There is a procedure to sell outside the Board: as described to me it's cumbersome and  slow, and I'm not suprised that farmers don't like it, but it is available.

Third: Mr. Penner says that those that want to market their own wheat don't want a vote on the  subject.  One would suppose that either they don't care about anyone else's opinion, or they're  afraid of losing the vote.  But no!  He states that a vote is just a way of taking the decision out of their hands, and that that isn't the way democracy should work.  Well, sorry, friend:  that is the way democracy works, and I like it better than your way. If this sort of obstinate, ideological, fuddled thinking is typical of opponents of the Wheat  Board - is it any surprise that it isn't listening?
Peter Lacey, Winnipeg, July 30, 2011

Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, MP distorts facts of CWB market options

 Once again, Cypress Hills-Grasslands MP David Anderson is promoting his government's plans to kill the Canadian Wheat Board without a producer vote. … As with most of his rants, Anderson aims his guns at Stewart Wells and the organic producers, and what the MP refers to as "the outrageous buy-back." If Anderson would study the producer direct sales (PDS) option of the wheat board, he would learn the facts. When conducting a PDS, the board quotes what it is getting for a similar product in a particular market on a given day, known as the "cash price." The farmer then pays this cash price to the CWB pool. The board will the pay the farmer the initial payment, and over time, the total value of the grain received by all farmers in the pool. The result of this transaction means farmers can earn the pool price, plus the additional premium they are able to negotiate with a buyer. The PDS provides farmers with the opportunity to take advantage of marketing opportunities they identify on their own, without undercutting each other and destroying the power of the single desk.
Joyce Neufeld, Star-Phoenix, July 29, 2011

Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, What happens to the Port of Churchill?

Without the Wheat Board, what happens to the Port of Churchill that gets 95 per cent of its port business from the CWB? In 2010, it shipped more than 600,000 tonnes of western wheat through Churchill, saving farmers in northern Saskatchewan and Manitoba thousands of dollars in transportation costs. Farmers now have the opportunity to exercise their choice of supporting a single desk Wheat Board. They should cast a ballot in the current CBW vote instead of letting this government infringe on their freedom.
Joyce Neufeld, Star-Phoenix, July 29, 2011

Northeast Sun, 100 years, 5 different wheat boards

Over the past 100 years we have had 5 different models of the Canadian Wheat Board operating in western Canada. The first and second versions were government mandated and run. The third version was a voluntary farmer-run co-operative which failed and at the time was the largest bankruptcy in Canadian history. The fourth was a voluntary government mandated version which also failed costing taxpayers hundreds of million of dollars.  The 5th model is the orderly marketer of today that has provided extra money and stability to farmers since 1943—with a change in the control structure that put farmers squarely in control in 1998. Those changes in 1998 also guaranteed western farmers they would have a vote on significant changes to the CWB—especially the kind of destructive changes that the Harper government is now proposing.
Stewart Wells, Northeast Sun, Jul 29 2011

Winnipeg Free Press, Post-monopoly CWB has tough job: report

In a paper released Thursday by the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, University of Manitoba economist Milton Boyd concludes the end of the monopoly would likely produce benefits to farmers and the industry. But the paper actually serves to bolster one of the key arguments Canadian Wheat Board officials have been making about the board's relative survival in the aftermath of the legislation.  That is -- a post-monopoly CWB will be hard-pressed to deliver value-added service to Prairie farmers.

But in his paper entitled Removal of the Canadian Wheat Board Monopoly: Future Changes for Farmers and the Grain Industry Boyd concludes that a successor entity to the CWB "may face challenges in the long term as a voluntary board, whatever organization form it would take." In an interview he said the current lay of the land in the Prairie grain-handling industry is so competitive and capital-intensive that, regardless of what form a new entity takes, it would be an extremely risky and difficult proposition. "I think there are clearly challenges," Boyd said in an interview. "If you I or the next person was put in charge of this voluntary board it certainly would not be easy. The private companies are fighting it out in the trenches now. It is a pretty rough, tough competitive business."
Martin Cash, Winnipeg Free Press, July 29, 2011 

Star-Phoenix, Bunge ready to pounce

In a recent media interview, Aberto Weisser, head of the multinational grain company, Bunge, applauded Ottawa's decision to turf the Canadian Wheat Board. Among his other egregious opinions, Weisser remarked that other countries have eliminated board trade because "it's not always well managed."  The 14 international trade investigations of the CWB and the auditor general of Canada would disagree.  ... In reality, it doesn't take a genius to envision a post-CWB world with massive companies ready to descend on a group they perceive to be inefficient - easy targets for corporate profits. Moreover, it's unlikely that a behemoth like Bunge would provide the same level of service and commitment to farmers that the CWB has provided for decades. Like other grain companies, Bunge can barely wait for the change. Understandably, Prairie farmers aren't reciprocating the sentiment.
Star-Phoenix, Don Dutchak, Jul 28 2011

The Canadian Press, Agriculture minister insists he can scrap wheat board monopoly without vote

Canada's agriculture minister says the Canadian Wheat Board's monopoly on wheat and barley sales has got to go if the grain industry is to grow stronger. "The monopoly of the wheat board is standing in the way," Gerry Ritz told a meeting of the Grain Growers of Canada on Wednesday. "What was once Canada's signature crop has fallen behind." He said the country's share of the world wheat market has been cut in half and barley has also suffered as farmers switched to other crops. That falling market share means the board has seen its influence on prices decline.
Scott Edmonds, The Canadian Press, July 29, 2011

Radio Canada, Des agriculteurs des Prairies furieux de ne pas être consultés par le gouvernement

Ottawa consulte en ce moment certaines organisations pour discuter de l'avenir de l'industrie du blé, mais les associations exclues croient que le choix des membres du comité s'avère tendancieux. Des groupes d'agriculteurs des Prairies affichent leur mécontentement de ne pas avoir été invités aux discussions concernant le marché libre qui surviendra une fois le monopole de la Commission canadienne du blé (CCB) aboli. Les consultations entamées par le ministère fédéral de l'Agriculture sont futiles, estime Bob Roehle, membre des Amis de la Commission canadienne du blé. … Un rapport sera rendu au ministre, Gerry Ritz, en septembre prochain.
Radio Canada, le 28 julliet

The  Canadian Press, Farmers voting on wheat board

Farmers are now voting on their future in the Canadian Wheat Board. … Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz has already said he will ignore the results…. Doug Chorney, chairman of Keystone Agricultural Producers, Manitoba’s largest agriculture organization, says there’s a lot of interest in the issue. “It’s very controversial in the farming community,” said Chorney. “It’s KAP’s policy that farmers be consulted about any changes to CWB.” … Critics of the wheat board say they will boycott the plebiscite. “I’m not participating in this vote,” said Gerrid Gust, chairman of the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association. “I’m sending mine into the prime minister saying: ‘Your’s is the next vote that counts. You know where I stand.’ ”
The Canadian Press, July 25, 2011

Leader-Post, Government stacks CWB working group 

… the federal government is forming a working group to help producers and industry prepare for the open market Aug. 1, 2012. But CWB chair Allen Oberg says the working group has no representation from producer or industry groups, except those that support the open market for wheat and barley exports. And Oberg said the tight timelines the working group is working under make it difficult, if not impossible, to provide meaningful analysis or recommendations to the government or the CWB. Oberg was responding to a memo sent recently from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to the Canadian Wheat Board and other farm and industry groups inviting them to participate in "an industry working group to help shape the future direction for western wheat and barley marketing."
Leader-Post, Bruce Johnstone, July 26, 2011

Leader-Post, No major producers in working group

But Oberg said none of the major producer groups, such as the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, Keystone Agricultural Producers, Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan and Wild Rose Agricultural Producers, have been invited to participate. "My first concern when I saw the membership list is that there's not much representation from farmers, only the Grain Growers of Canada (an umbrella farm organization that supports the open market)," Oberg said. "(Grain Growers of Canada) do represent one point of view, but you certainly couldn't call it a balanced (view)." Similarly, none of the major industry groups, such as the Western Grain Elevator Association or Producer Car Shippers of Canada, belong to the working group. "It struck me as kind of funny that the groups that are most affected aren't really represented on this committee," said Oberg, an Alberta farmer. Yet, groups that aren't affected directly, such as the canola and pulse producers, are "well-represented" on the working group, he added.
Leader-Post, Bruce Johnstone, July 26, 2011

Economist Intelligence Unit, August wheat outlook

The Economist Intelligence Unit estimates that global wheat consumption reached a record 658m tonnes in 2010/11 (July-June), an increase of 1% on the previous year. Despite recent high prices, demand from flour millers, feed manufacturers and industrial processors remains firm. As in recent years, growth remains strongest in feed and industrial sectors, with direct human food consumption rising at a comparatively slower pace. Although uncertainty remains about the strength of the economic recovery, a mild rebound is likely to support growth in wheat consumption over the next two years, especially in developing countries. Total use in 2011/12 is forecast to rise by 1.6%, to 668m tonnes, including 460m tonnes for food, 119m tonnes for feed and 21m tonnes for industrial uses. A rise in disposable incomes will lead to further growth in 2012/13, with consumption forecast at 678m tonnes.
Economist Intelligence Unit, July 26, 2011

Economist Intelligence Unit, Global feed wheat consumption

Global feed wheat consumption in 2010/11 is estimated at 115m tonnes. As a result of poor pasture conditions and tight supplies of barley and maize, Russia is expected to feed much larger quantities of wheat this year. Some users in parts of Asia, including China, have also replaced maize with feed-grade wheat sourced from this year’s unusually low-quality harvests in Canada and Australia. World feeding of wheat is forecast to increase to 119m tonnes in 2011/12. While much will depend on the price relationship with competing ingredients, the tight supply and demand outlook for maize suggests that feed-grade wheat could be competitive, especially if larger crops are produced in the former Soviet Union. Firm demand for meat, especially in developing countries, is also likely to boost consumption in some countries. Assuming a continuation of these trends, feed consumption may increase to 122m tonnes in 2012/13.
Economist Intelligence Unit, July 26, 2011, As farmers, we are at the 11th hour

"As farmers, we are at the 11th hour and facing a monumental change," said CWB board chair Allen Oberg, who farms near Forestburg, Alberta. "In a matter of weeks, the government intends to introduce legislation that will permanently remove the single-desk marketing structure for wheat and barley. As elected directors of the CWB, we have a duty to ensure that our stakeholders - the farmers of Western Canada - are as fully informed as possible, so we can all face the future with eyes wide open." The CWB's board of directors is committed to sharing information and discussing the issues with farmers in as many ways as possible. Oberg has recently begun a blog at . Other information, including a short video featuring Oberg on his farm, is also posted on the CWB Web site at .
CWB, July 27, 2011

The Meridian Booster, Where is Premier Wall?

During the proposed takeover of Potash Corporation, Premier Wall was both visible and vocal in ensuring Saskatchewan interests were not jeopardized. Sadly and inconsistently, he has been dreadfully silent on the federal government's intention to efficiently destroy the Canadian Wheat Board. Although the Premier's government has indicated it supports marketing choice, he seems willing to accept that this will involve farmers choosing between a mere handful of self-interested multinational corporations to deal with. He has also indicated that his government will not engage on this issue, because it is a FEDERAL issue. How ironic it is that the approval of the Potash takeover was also a FEDERAL issue, but that did not stop Premier Wall then. Perhaps the Premier is really more concerned about big corporate interests, rather than farmer's and Saskatchewan's interests!
Eric Sagan, The Meridian Booster, Jul 25 2011

Financial Post, Agri giants poised to grab share

It could be nothing short of a frenzy. When the Canadian Wheat Board’s monopoly comes to an end next summer, a group of private sector players from Canada and abroad will leap into the sector and seize as much market share as they can. There will be stiff competition as the winners and losers get sorted out, and no one quite knows what the end result will be. “You’re going to open up 20 to 25 million new tonnes of marketing opportunities for companies inside and outside Canada,” says Curt Vossen, president of agribusiness company Richardson International Ltd. Industry experts say it is still to early to quantify how big this opportunity is. But the raw numbers of the Wheat Board’s business are undeniable: the company had revenue of more than $5.1-billion last year as the one-stop shop for Western Canadian wheat farmers, and that was down 34% from the year before.
Financial Post, Peter Koven, Jul 23, 2011

Star-Phoenix, Liberal leader Bob Rae tells Liberals to be patient

On Friday afternoon, Rae and Goodale met with farmers at the University of Saskatchewan to discuss the future of the Canadian Wheat Board. Rae feels the party can win rural votes by listening to and supporting farmers who are pro-Wheat Board. "This is a strong issue for us because we don't think even those farmers who voted Conservative are supporters of getting rid of the Wheat Board," Rae said. "We think there is a stronger support for the Wheat Board then the Conservatives understand in Saskatchewan."
The StarPhoenix, Devin Heroux, July 23, 2011 

Winnipeg Free Press, Glowing forecasts don't mesh with reality

According to some, when farmers are freed of the CWB, they will flock back to the crop that put Western Canada on the global grain map. Really? Let's do some math. Canada's global wheat market share has been running about 13.5 per cent. To get back to 20 per cent, we would need to bump up production by about 7.5 million tonnes. Average yield is about one tonne per acre, so that's about 7.5 million more acres. Where will those acres come from? Certainly not barley, which will also be freed from the shackles of the CWB. So it has to come from canola, oats, pulses and special crops, which had a total of about 27 million acres last year.
Winnipeg Free Press, Laura Rance, Jul 23 2011 (Laura Rance is editor of the Manitoba Co-operator)

Winnipeg Free Press, Bunge could expand further in Altona post-CWB

Bunge Ltd. is expanding its canola-seed-crushing plant in Altona and could use the site for a grain elevator after the wheat board monopoly ends. Bunge Ltd. is spending more than $100 million on a new canola-seed-crushing plant in Altona and may spend countless millions more on other facilities as it carves a place for itself in a post-Canadian Wheat Board world.
Soren Schroeder, the head of the global grain giant's North American operations, said in an interview Thursday Bunge wants to start buying wheat and barley from western Canadian grain farmers if the federal government follows through with its plans to remove the board's marketing monopoly next year.
Winnipeg Free Press, Murray McNeill and Martin Cash

Winnipeg Free Press, Bunge Ltd. leads global agribusiness

Based in White Plains, N.Y.
Leading global agribusiness and food company founded in 1818
Approximately 32,000 employees
Operates in more than 30 countries
$42 billion in total sales in 2009
Extensive operations in Canada including port terminal facilities in Quebec; oilseed processing in Altona and Harrowby in Manitoba, Dixon and Nipawin, Sask., Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., and Hamilton, Ont.

Winnipeg Free Press, Murray McNeill and Martin Cash

Globe and Mail, U.S. Grain Giant Welcomes End of Canadian Wheat Board

So Bunge sees new opportunities in the demise of the Canadian Wheat Board? Hardly news to this farmer, but it does raise some interesting questions about the four or five giant private traders, like Bunge who handle so much of the world’s food supply. Can any of those private traders/middlemen provide independently audited statements, as our Wheat Board does which show they return over 98 per cent of sales revenue to farmers? Of course they cannot because private traders must pay off bankers, risk managers, shareholders, get a return on investment, and provide executive bonuses. All that money has to come out of sales revenue before farmers get their cut. This is all money the CWB sends back to farmers.Could that be one of the reasons why farmers consistently elect CWB directors who support the CWB’s single desk?
Globe and Mail, Ken Larsen, July 22, 2011

Edmonton Journal, Single desk helps farmers

First, it's worth noting that last year, the CWB held 14 per cent of world wheat trade, 11 per cent of world barley trade and 50 per cent of world durum trade, making the CWB one of the largest grain exporters in the world. Second, market share is not the only indicator of market power. The CWB gains market power from being the only seller of Prairie wheat, durum and barley into export markets. This gives the CWB the ability to price differently in different markets on the same day, knowing that there is no other seller on the market offering the same product. Price differentiation generates hundreds of millions of dollars for farmers each year, as repeated independent economic studies based on audited CWB sales data have proven.
Allen Oberg, Edmonton Journal, July 21 (Allen Oberg, chair, Canadian Wheat Board board of directors)

Taber Times, Fast Jerry’s Discount Grain Company 

“It’s disappointing that one of their main contentions, or something that they keep repeating, is that they are going to refuse to follow the law and allow farmers to vote,” said Stewart Wells, CWB district 3 director.  … “When they wind the CWB up, which they will do by repealing the act, the government says it’s going to replace it with something — they won’t say what. I’m calling that new company Fast Jerry’s Discount Grain Company — because it should never be confused with what we have now with the CWB. The CWB is the single desk — the single biggest asset we have is the single desk, and the marketing advantages that brings to the CWB. The board has looked over the past several years at all different types of models — there have been studies done on a wide range of different configurations, right down to just running a brokerage house/margin trader. Of course what happens is that as you move farther and farther away from the CWB we have now, the fewer and fewer advantages there actually are in it for farmers.”
Taber Times, Trevor Busch, July 20, 2011

Calgary Herald, Tories' wheat board ideology could cost us all

Overall, the CWB has usually been successful in selling grain at the highest price. The CWB is known as a legendary and fearsome international competitor, even out foxing the Americans in their own market. Not unexpectedly, the free trade Americans reacted by launching nine trade actions against Canadian wheat imports, all of which were defeated by the CWB.  … The surefire loser in this change will be the taxpayer. When the U.S. launches its inevitable trade actions against an anticipated flood of Canadian grain into American border grain elevators, it will be the Canadian government that will have to pay the bill to fight those actions, not the diminished CWB.

The CWB also carries liabilities of millions on past sales that went bad, and of course, it carries employee pension and severance liabilities that could exceed $100 million. The government may try to prop up a new CWB to avoid facing those realities, but somehow you just know the taxpayer will be on the hook. I guess for a few, it's a small price to pay for one of the founding ideological goals of the Reform and Conservative parties.
Calgary Herald, Will Verboven July 17, 2011 (Will Verboven is editor of Alberta Farmer)