Western farmers should have right to decide who they’ll sell to

We live in a democratic country and giving farmers the freedom to choose how to market their own grain, whether that’s individually or through a voluntary pooling entity, is the democratic thing to do.

We live in a democratic country and giving farmers the freedom to choose how to market their own grain, whether that’s individually or through a voluntary pooling entity, is the democratic thing to do.

Currently, by law, Western Canadian wheat, durum and barley farmers do not have the same rights as other producers in Canada and around the world.

For export or domestic human consumption, farmers have no other option but to market through the Canadian Wheat Board — the arcane monopoly that was established by government, not producers, to aid the war effort.

Our government will not stand idly by while Western Canadian farmers are short changed by an out-of-date act of Parliament.

Our government believes in protecting the property rights of farmers and their ability to run their own businesses.

This is demanded by farmers in the CWB’s own surveys that confirm that a dual market is the most popular choice among producers, a choice that allows them to control the price and timing of their sales.

Furthermore, our government’s top priority, like that of Canadian families, is a strong economy.

An open grain market will drive the economy, encourage investment and create jobs. After all, international buyers purchase Canadian wheat and barley because of their quality and value, not because the CWB sells them.

In Australia, farmers are looking at record wheat acreage this year.

In an open market, Canadian farmers and industry would be free to respond to market demands by innovative their farming and processing practices.

This transition is, of course, a complex process which is why my departmental officials are working with the entire value chain, including farmers, the grain trade, railways, academia and government.

We remain hopeful that the CWB will work with us in providing marketing choice to every farmer.

During the transition period, we will continue to make every effort to ensure clarity and certainty for farmers and the whole value chain.

Our government is pleased to receive the support for this initiative from three of the four provinces shackled by the monopoly: Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, which produce up to 90 per cent of western Canada’s wheat, durum and barley.

Exciting new opportunities lie ahead for our farmers. We need to ensure that all farmers right across this great country can position their businesses to capture those opportunities.

Gerry Ritz

Agriculture Minister

Ottawa