|Legislation to dismantle single desk|
|Local Content - Local Agriculture|
|Written by trevor|
|Thursday, 20 October 2011 20:48|
Yesterday, the federal government introduced legislation in Parliament to eliminate the single desk marketing structure of the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) and give marketing freedom to Western Canadian farmers.
Speaking at a farm in Acme earlier this week, federal agriculture minister Gerry Ritz outlined many of the reasons why the Conservative government is committed to giving wheat and barley farmers control over marketing.
“Canada’s farmers and food processors do more than just produce food for our tables, domestically and abroad — they drive over $35 billion of our exports, and generate one in eight jobs here in Canada. The Canadian grain sector alone brings over $16 billion dollars to the farm gate, and is a major contributor to our economy.”
Individual farmers are the best judge of when, where, and how they market their grain, Ritz added.
It is something they are currently unable to do under the single desk structure of the CWB, according to Ritz.
“As you’ve heard me say time and time again, our government wants to help farmers earn from the marketplace, not the mailbox. Often that means leveling the playing field on the international stage. Sometimes, it means getting government out of the way so that farmers can do what only they do best. If farmers can do what they do best, they will continue to drive our economy. To empower agricultural producers we must open new avenues of profitability for them to take advantage of — they simply need the opportunity to succeed.”
Ritz amounted the single desk marketing structure to an outdated answer to yesterday’s agricultural problems, while making reference to a “voluntary wheat board,” without outlining how such an organization might function in the future.
“The Canadian Wheat Board monopoly, born in a different time to meet different needs, has cast a chill on key parts of the grain sector in Western Canada in today’s realities. The six-decade-old Canadian Wheat Board monopoly is yesterday’s solution to yesterday’s problem. The fact is, today’s farmers are entrepreneurs that are proving over and over again that they can, and will, do better if they have control over their own business bottom line. For the grain industry, this means choice in how they market their grain, it means a choice in how and when they sell their crop, a choice in who they sell their crop to, a choice in what price they sell their grain for, and ultimately, a choice between working through a voluntary wheat board, or directly on the open market.”
May’s election victory for the Conservatives represents all the mandate needed to eliminate the single desk marketing structure of the CWB and deposit farmers into the ebbs and flows of an open market, according to Ritz.
“As you know, Western Canadians elected a strong, stable majority Harper government last May, and just like farmers who make agreements on a handshake, we made a handshake with the farmers of Western Canada to proceed. We were elected in every rural riding in the Canadian Wheat Board area, with a campaign promise to give Western Canadian grain farmers marketing freedom — and we will deliver.”
It will be full speed ahead once the legislation is tabled, he added.
“As Prime Minister Stephen Harper said recently, not only do we intend to introduce this legislation, but this government intends to pass this legislation very quickly. Let me be clear — the Harper government intends to pass this historic legislation by the end of the calendar year.”
Examples both here in Canada and internationally prove eliminating the single desk structure will be in the best interests of Canadian farmers, claimed Ritz.
“An open market attracts investment, encourages innovation and creates value-added jobs. An open market for the grain industry will strengthen the agricultural industry to get better returns at the farm gate, and for Canadian economic action overall. Unlike what some people may claim, the sky will not fall in an open market. We’ve seen positive growth in both Ontario and Australia as farmers were given a choice. The time is right for action — Canada’s farmers grow world-class food in a global marketplace that is ripe with opportunity. Farmers deserve the right to seize these opportunities.”