$5.8 billion reasons why the CWB matters to Ontario farmers

Brandon Sun Photo
Canadian Wheat Board, Commission canadienne du blé, Minister discounting farmers' vote, Winnipeg Free Press

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz fired off a letter Tuesday discounting the results of a vote on the future of the Canadian Wheat Board before they've even been released. Results of the plebiscite to determine whether Prairie farmers want to eliminate the board's monopoly on wheat and barley sales are to be made public Friday.

Ritz expects the results will show more farmers support keeping the monopoly than those who support ending it. CWB chairman Allen Oberg said he expects the results will show strong support for keeping the monopoly on wheat but it will be close for barley. But he said whatever the results are, the CWB will abide by it and he expects the government should do the same.
Mia Rabson, Winnipeg Free Press, Sept. 8, 2011

Ontario Farmer, Editorial, Farmers need to stick together

Faced with poor treatment by buyers and being under cut by cheap imports, Canadian farmers, over the last 75 years, have worked together to create and build several orderly marketing institutions. …Although, some orderly marketing institutions have fallen by the wayside or changed their mandate, single desk selling by the Canadian Wheat Board and supply management in dairy, eggs, turkeys and chickens are still alive, at least for the moment. These 'made-in-Canada,' farmer-controlled institutions operate on a non-profit basis, returning all of the market revenues, less marketing costs, to farmers. Key to the creation of orderly marketing, was farmers willingness to work together for the wellbeing of all farmers, as opposed to using market choice to compete against, and when necessary, undercut neighbours and fellow farmers.
Ann Slater, Ontario Farmer, Sep 6 2011

Ontario Farmer, The fight to save the CWB matters in Ontario

The federal government says it will end the CWB's single desk by August 2012. It also says it is committed to maintaining supply management. … Once the CWB is gone, how long before some of the same people who pushed for the elimination of the CWB turn their attention to supply management? … With government agriculture policies focused on trade, how long before the government decides it has to open the Canadian border to more imports of dairy and chicken to get a trade deal signed? …  In solidarity with prairie grain farmers, Ontario farmers who believe in the need to rebalance power in favour of farmers, and who support supply management, need to voice their support for the CWB as a tool which gives farmers the collective power to counteract the corporate-controlled grain trade. Down the road, if the push to eliminate supply management continues to grow, we may need the support of prairie grain farmers to help Ontario farmers keep the power and control we have through supply management.
Ann Slater, Ontario Farmer, Sep 6 2011

Toronto Star, Conservative opposition to supply management boards

Behind the scenes in Ontario, the PCs have been fighting a rearguard battle of their own with a rural rump known as the Ontario Landowners Association. Its roughly 15,000 members have tied the Tories up in knots over the past decade with their libertarian crusade.  Many Tories believe Hudak owes a debt to another former Landowner chief, Randy Hillier, who backed him at the 2009 Tory leadership convention. Now a Tory MPP, Hillier holds the riding adjacent to Sterling’s and worked behind the scenes to topple him. They strongly oppose municipal amalgamation, post-Walkerton measures to safeguard water, the greenbelt, supply management boards, and many wildlife and conservation policies.
Martin Regg Cohn, Toronto Star, Aug. 3, 2011

La Terre de chez nous, Syndicalisme Agricole, la Fédération canadienne de l'agriculture

Fondée en 1935, la Fédération canadienne de l'agriculture  regroupe 22 organisations provinciales et spécialisées (lait, oeufs, poulet, etc.), qui représentent 200 000 agriculteurs. Ces organismes affiliés versent à la Fédération des cotisations selon une formule "complexe", selon sa directrice des communications, Jessica Goodfellow. Le principal élément du calcul demeure toutefois le nombre de membres. La FCA possède également des partenaires corporatifs tels que les compagnies Syngenta et Pioneer, de même que Financement agricole Canada. Côté financement, la FCA bénéficie d'un budget de tout près de 1,4 M$ pour 2011. Elle anticipe des surplus d'un peu plus de 13 000 $, après avoir enregistré un déficit d'environ 40 000 $ en 2010.
Julie Mercier, La Terre de chez nous, jeudi 1 septembre

La Terre de chez nous, NFU cotisation est de 195 $ par famille

Formée en 1969 par la fusion des Unions de fermiers de l'Ontario, de la Saskatchewan, de la Colombie-Britannique et du Manitoba, la NFU compte près de 5000 membres dans toutes les provinces, sauf le Québec, comme le souligne son président, Terry Boehm. … La NFU se veut le défenseur de la ferme familiale et des pratiques agricoles respectueuses de l'environnement. À l'image de la FCA, le syndicat lutte en faveur de la gestion de l'offre, de la Commission canadienne du blé et d'une mise en marché ordonnée des denrées agricoles. La NFU croit d'ailleurs que "les agriculteurs doivent travailler collectivement à défendre leurs intérêts dans une industrie agricole dominée de plus en plus par des corporations multimilliardaires".
Julie Mercier, La Terre de chez nous, jeudi 1 septembre

The Outlook, Time to focus on the future for farmers, Ritz

While the Board wants only the pro-board percentage of farmers to have their way, our Government wants to provide every farmers with marketing freedom, whether that's selling individually or in a marketing pool. We remain hopeful that the Board will put aside their defeatist approach and come to the table with a responsible and reasonable business model for their future in an open market. Farmers can be assured that our government will continue to consult wit the entire value chain, including the Canadian Wheat Board, to ensure a smooth transition to Western Canadian grain marketing freedom.
The Outlook, Gerry Ritz Federal Agriculture Minister, September 6, 2011

Winkler Times, A recipe for CWB failure

The CWB's board of directors will respect the results of this plebiscite. If a majority of farmers wants to end the single desk for barley or wheat, we will actively support the transition to an open market. We have also been very clear that a new CWB cannot be created without an infusion of significant operating and financing capital, regulated access to terminals, assistance in an ownership structure, and other measures to safeguard a fledgling company in its formative years.
This is where we have hit a roadblock. We simply cannot proceed further until the government shares its vision for a new organization. Minister Ritz says he wants a "strong and viable" organization. But with no money to pay farmers for grain, no ability to finance operations, no place to accept deliveries and no way to move grain to customers, a new entity cannot survive. That is a recipe for failure.
Allen Oberg, Chair, CWB board of directors
Winkler Times, Thu Sep 8

Leader-Post, Industry not ready for removal of single desk

The Harper government's plan to eliminate the Canadian Wheat Board's single desk monopoly over wheat and barley exports by Aug. 1, 2012, leaves virtually no time for the industry to prepare for the open market, the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan (APAS) said Monday. "We're heading for some serious problems in the grainhandling and transportation system unless these questions are asked and answered,'' said Doug Faller, policy manager with APAS.

"We're heading for a wreck,'' Faller said, referring to comments made at an APAS-sponsored symposium on "transitional issues'' resulting from the removal of the single desk in Saskatoon on Aug. 23. … Among the concerns expressed at the symposium, co-sponsored by the University of Saskatchewan, were: Impact on shortline railways and rural communities, impact on producer car loadings, impact on the Port of Churchill, maintaining control over grain quality and grading, and continued funding of Canadian International Grains Institute.
Bruce Johnstone, Leader-Post, Aug. 30, 2011

CBC News, Royal Canadian Wheat Board, Rae rallies Liberals

"You say that the Liberal Party doesn't have simple solutions. We do have simple solutions. If we change the name of the wheat board to the Royal Canadian Wheat Board ... if we change the name of the CBC to the Royal Canadian Broadcasting Corporation ... if we do these things the Conservative will have no choice but to stand up and defend them."
CBC News, Aug 29 2011

Calgary Herald, New trade deals have resulted in advantages to Alberta's farmers

The Canada-Colombia free-trade agreement, which was signed three years ago and came into effect last week, gives Canadian farmers a level playing field with Argentina and, for the time being, an edge on the U.S., the Canadian Wheat Board's Janelle Whitley says. Canada already moves wheat and barley worth about $155 million a year into Colombia, but the removal of tariffs will lower the price and could lead to increased sales, Whitley said.
Kim Guttormson,  Calgary Herald, Aug 27 2011

Winnipeg Free Press, CWB Wheat, barley net farmers $5.8B

Despite challenges, Prairie farmers earned $5.8 billion from the 2010-11 wheat and barley crop, the fourth highest return from the Canadian Wheat Board's efforts in history. High grain prices trumped excessive moisture that kept more than 10 million acres unseeded last year, producing a wheat crop of 21 million tonnes, slightly below average. CWB's 2010-11 crop year:
$5.8 billion -- net revenue to farmers
21 million tonnes -- total wheat production (compared to five-year average of 22.4 million tonne)
7 million tonnes -- total barley production (compared to 9.26 million tonnes on average)
38 per cent -- size of wheat crop in top two grades (compared to normal average of 68 per cent)
15.8 million tonnes -- wheat exported, including 1.2 million tonnes to South Korea, 974,000 tonnes to Japan, 893,000 tonnes to Bangladesh, 851,000 tonnes to Indonesia and 817,000 tonnes to Sri Lanka
3.4 million tonnes -- total durum exports
424,000 tonnes -- malting barely exports
Martin Cash, Winnipeg Free Press, Aug 27 2011

SRC, Les agriculteurs de Prairies réalisent des recettes exceptionnelles

Une carte du ministère de l'Agriculture indique les précipitions dans les Prairies cette année. En violet, les précipitations records et en bleu foncé, des chutes de pluie très élevées. Le prix élevé du grain permettra à la Commission canadienne du blé (CCB) d'enregistrer une des plus importantes recettes nettes de son histoire, selon les prévisions 2011 de la CCB présentées vendredi à Winnipeg. La qualité, aussi bien que la production, était en baisse lors de la dernière année de récolte qui s'est terminée le 31 juillet, mais les agriculteurs des Prairies toucheront un montant estimé à 5,8 milliards de dollars sur la vente de blé et d'orge.
SRC Manitoba,  le vendredi 26 août 2011

StarPhoenix, Canada's image for quality wheat bound to suffer

The Canadian wheat used in our all-purpose flour is highly regarded around the world for its consistency in terms of its milling and baking properties. Our quality control and quality assurance systems (QC & QA) are very difference from that of the U.S., and unique among major grain exporters.

Institutions such as the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) oversee varietal registration. …. Another key institution involved in our QC & QA system is the Canadian Grain Commission, which oversees the grading, handling, and shipping of grain. In the event that problems do occur with Canadian wheat shipments, the Canadian International Grain Institute helps resolve any disputes through its role in customer service and market development.
Blair McCann, StarPhoenix, Aug. 26, 2011

StarPhoenix, Brand differentiation premium goes to farmers

Working together, these institutions have established Canadian wheat as a brand that is differentiated from other grain exporters on the basis of quality and consistency. Grain customers around the world are willing to pay a premium for our wheat.

The Canadian Wheat Board, through its single-desk marketing structure, is able to capture this premium and pass it on to farmers.  With the loss of the premium, it may be hard to justify maintaining a unique QC & QA system for Canadian wheat. Cargill, Viterra, and JRI certainly won't be supporting the system.
Blair McCann, StarPhoenix, Aug. 26, 2011

Edmonton Journal, Wheat board's plebiscite all about propaganda

Before I get into the insincerity of the Canadian Wheat Board's plebiscite on its future, let's do a little exercise on the immorality of a government monopoly over Prairie grain in a free country in the first place. Today's Roman Catholics are a fairly ecumenical lot, reaching out in many ways to other denominations and faiths. But it hasn't always been that way.
Lorne Gunter, Winnipeg Free Press, Aug 25 2011

Winnipeg Free Press, CWB voting by Prairie farmers ends today

Plebiscite questions

A) I wish to maintain the ability to market all wheat, with the continuing exception of feed wheat sold domestically, through the CWB single-desk system.
B) I wish to remove the single-desk marketing system from the CWB and sell all wheat through an open market system.

A) I wish to maintain the ability to market all barley, both malting/food, with the continuing exception of feed barley sold domestically, through the CWB single-desk system.
B) I wish to remove the single-desk marketing system from the CWB and sell all barley through an open-market system.

The CWB has held a total of six producer meetings in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba this summer.
CWB officials said 2,200 farmers attended the meetings. They were scheduled to provide a forum where farmers and stakeholders could ask questions and share concerns, CWB chairman Allen Oberg said.
Martin Cash, Winnipeg Free Press, Aug. 24, 2011

Globe and Mail,  At the heart of the wheat wars

Canadian Wheat Board chair Allen Oberg,  "I see the CWB as being like a patent for farmers. When corporations have a unique product, they seek patent protection so they can be the only seller – and that’s what the CWB is. I meet farmers who say the wheat board doesn’t have any value and I put it to them this way: “What would a private company be willing to pay for the exclusive right to export all wheat and barley out of Western Canada? And to be the only seller to domestic mills and maltsters?” That’s what farmers have, and that’s what’s being taken away.
Globe and Mail, Gordon Pitts, Aug, 21, 2011 

National Post, Middle East looks to Canada's West for wheat supply

With little fanfare, this week the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia inked an agreement to purchase 660,000 tonnes of wheat from farmers in Canada, the United States, Australia and the European Union. Sixty-five million sacks of flour. One-and-a-half billion loaves of bread. At average Canadian yields, the deal is equivalent to 2,800 square kilometers of farmland - about the size of four Edmontons. The Canadian Wheat Board refuses to release details on the sale, but if past orders are any indication, much of that 660,000 tonnes will be coming out of the Prairies.

Last year, every second piece of flatbread eaten by a Saudi Arabian was baked with grains grown and harvested on Canadian soil. It "was one of the biggest Canadian sales ever," Canadian Ambassador David Chatterson told a gathering of Saudi businessmen in November. This year, the grain-hungry Middle Eastern country is expected to go through two million tonnes of wheat, most of which will come from either Germany or Canada. Across the border, Iraq's bakeries are also stocked primarily with Canadian grain. Last year, the Persian Gulf country bought 1.1 million tonnes, making it the world's largest non-U.S. buyer of Canadian wheat.
Tristin Hopper, National Post, Aug. 18, 2011