Open Wheat/Barley Market To Benefit Cdn Prairie Economy
June 15, 2011
The Western Canadian prairie economy has much to gain from the implementation of an open market in wheat and barley, according to the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association, or WCWGA.
The Association was responding to the announcement from the Manitoba government that it has launched a "Save the Canadian Wheat Board" campaign.
"It's unfortunate that the Manitoba provincial government has decided to turn this into an urban versus rural question by focussing on the potential job losses at the Canadian Wheat Board," said Rolf Penner, Manitoba Vice President of the WCWGA. "Instead, this change is all about improving the bottom line for farmers, restoring our property rights and creating greater prosperity throughout the prairies."
The WCWGA applauds the federal government's plan to restore the open market and give prairie farmers the freedom to sell wheat and barley to a buyer of our choice, including a voluntary Canadian Wheat Board (CWB).
The CWB monopoly was imposed on prairie farmers in 1943, without a vote, to control rising prices and to ensure wheat supplies were available for the allied war effort.
The WCWGA note that under an open market, each individual farmer will have the ultimate democratic right to sell their grain as they see fit. The CWB will be a marketing option for those farmers who see value in it.
An open market also creates the potential for thousands of new jobs by encouraging investment in wheat and barley research, processing and marketing throughout western Canada.
"One only has to look at the tremendous private investment in canola, oats and the pulse industries to imagine what might be possible in wheat and barley," said Mike Bast, Manitoba director and past Chair of the WCWGA. "It's no accident that North Dakota has five pasta plants whereas Manitoba and Saskatchewan have none. We will continue to export jobs from the prairies unless entrepreneurs are given the chance to buy grain freely from farmers."
The WCWGA said that Manitoba accounts for only 16% of western Canada's wheat production and less than 10% of prairie barley production. The governments of Alberta and Saskatchewan are on record as supporting marketing choice for prairie farmers.
In recent years, wheat acreage in Manitoba has dropped substantially as farmers have switched to growing more profitable open market crops.
Wheat acreage in Manitoba has decreased 44% in the past 20 years, declining from 5.5 million acres in 1990 to 3.1 million acres in 2010, the WCWGA said.
"Manitoba farmers have been voting with their seeders and choosing crops that provide much better returns than wheat and barley," said Penner. "Ending the CWB monopoly creates the opportunity to reverse that trend and encourage much-needed investment in the wheat and barley industry throughout western Canada, including Winnipeg."
Source: Commodity News Service Canada Inc.
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