As producers are aware, this will be the last year that farmers will be forced to market solely with the Canadian Wheat Board. For far too long the Canadian Wheat Board Act has held farmers back. Even the initiation of the monopoly in 1943 cost farmers money. The single desk was brought in by the Government of the day specifically to hold down the price of wheat for two purposes – to limit the rate of inflation (grain prices were rising rapidly) and to supply Europe with cheap grain for the war effort. Farmers have paid the price for too long – it is time to give them real choice and freedom on their farms.
The CWB has known these changes are coming. While some of the Directors and staff have wanted to work with us for the future, others have insisted that the Board do nothing to anticipate the change. Their message has been one of doom and gloom and if they have their way it will be a self fulfilling prophecy. Although they know that the majority of producers want to have choice – their own survey this spring showed that – they have chosen to spend millions of dollars of farmers’ money on a self serving campaign to continue the monopoly.
A series of one sided meetings were held where producers who disagreed with the pro Board presentations were intimidated and threatened. Farmers’ dollars were spent on bizarre, misleading ads in order to try to create fear in the agriculture community.
Their largest and latest effort has been to spend millions on a defective and incomplete survey/vote, with ballots going out to dead people, to estates and to thousands of people who have not set foot on a farm for years. I have had many farmers stop by and tell me they will not participate in this sham. That will not stop the anti-choice Directors from trying to now foist those results on a gullible public and use them to try to maintain the coercive monopoly.
The Board of Directors was given a great opportunity this summer. They could have had a huge positive impact on the future of Western Canadian agriculture if they had worked with us to provide options for the future, including a voluntary CWB. They chose not to. Instead they have spoken nothing but gloom and doom – all to farmers’ detriment. They could have used their summer meetings, their extensive advertising and their survey to find those farmers who would be their future customers.
But instead, they wasted millions of farmer’s money, simultaneously insisting that though they are the world’s best marketer they can’t possibly compete. Although they claim that there are significant numbers of farmers who support them, they have spent no time providing those farmers with options for the future.
We look forward to working with the Western Canadian agriculture community to supply those very options, which include choice and a voluntary CWB.