May 3, 2011 by Lee Hart

The End of the Canadian Wheat Board Lotto

Man, people didn’t wait for the body of the Liberal Party of
Canada to cool Monday night (May 2) before I began seeing the odd Twitter message
(Tweet) wondering when the new Conservative majority government will move in to
revamp the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) .

One farmer near Picture Butte, Alberta said he was so excited by the prospect of a majority
Conservative government able to act on its own to revoke the CWB monopoly on
wheat and barley marketing, he began to tear up as he watched the
reports of the Conservative rise and Liberal fall filter in during the 2011
election coverage.

It is hard to believe it has been 18 years since the last
majority Conservative government took steps to change

Charlie mayer.jpg

 the CWB mandate. It was
August 1, 1993 when then Agriculture Minister Charlie Mayer (pictured at right) introduced the
Continental Barley Market. That marketing window was closed 40 days later by a
federal court ruling September 10, which said the minister didn’t have the
authority to make the change. And then when the Liberals were elected in
November of that year, well, that was the end of that Conservative notion. 

Although that freedom to market grain was short lived, the
issue hasn’t waned a bit in the minds of many producers who have championed
marketing choice for years. In fact in some cases, I am seeing the next
generation taking up the cause of CWB marketing reform. 

While the CWB has introduced a number of marketing options
over the years to give producers more flexibility in marketing wheat and barley
through the board, for the purists all those programs simply fell short of the
very straight forward, basic appeal of “give us the freedom to market our own
crops, as we see fit, to whom ever and where ever we want.”

I don’t think there is any doubt now that some Canadian
Wheat Board reform will be implemented by the new Federal minister of
agriculture – whether that be the incumbent Gerry Ritz, or a new face in that
portfolio. The big question is really when and what form the legislative change
will take.

One of my social networks colleagues suggested it would
happen within 18 months, while I was even gutsier and predicted it could happen
by this fall. Maybe once hockey is over someone could organize an
End-of-the-CWB-Monopoly Pool to bet on the date of legislative change. This
could be one “Pool” that many wheat and barley growers would be really pleased
to invest in.

Lee
Hart is a field editor for Grainews in Calgary, Contact him at 403-592-1964 or
by email at
[email protected]

 

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Lee Hart

Lee Hart


Lee Hart is a long-time farm writer, and honorary member of the Alberta Institute of Agrologists, with many observations on the agriculture industry, who never hesitates to admit he is wrong (should that ever happen.)


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