Former Wheat Board directors speak out

Two former Canadian Wheat Board directors are speaking out against the actions of the remaining farmer-elected board members.

Two former Canadian Wheat Board directors are speaking out against the actions of the remaining farmer-elected board members.

Jeff Nielsen and Henry Vos represented District 2 and 1 respectively before resigning in October over the Wheat Board’s fight to prevent the federal government from removing the grain marketing agency’s monopoly powers. Nielsen, who farms near Olds and represented much of Central Alberta on the Wheat Board, had also been suspended temporarily by his counterparts for criticizing the objectivity of a series of farmer information meetings organized by the CWB. On Thursday, the Western Barley Growers Association issued a statement by Nielsen and Vos criticizing the remaining eight farmer directors for their continued efforts to block Bill C-18 — the Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act.

“This group of eight, along with the Liberal Party of Canada, and the NDP, continue to disenfranchise themselves from the majority of grain producers who want and expect this government to fulfill their commitment to marketing choice,” said the two men.

The remaining directors have asked the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench to declare Bill C-18 invalid. That followed a Federal Court judge’s ruling earlier this month that the bill violates the Canadian Wheat Board Act because the act requires that farmers first be consulted in a plebiscite. However, the decision did not include an order stopping the bill.

On Thursday, the Senate passed third reading and final approval of the bill. Royal assent is expected this week.

The remaining farmer directors have argued that the majority of Western Canadian farmers want the Wheat Board to retain its single-desk marketing powers, based on a farmer vote organized by the CWB this summer. But Nielsen and Vos said that vote was “flawed” because it included retired farmers, land owners and estates.

They added that past CWB surveys have indicated most barley producers do not want single-desk marketing, and that the percentage of wheat producers in favour of the status quo is declining.