News Release - July 24, 2006
WARTMAN SUPPORTS FARMER CHOICE BY ATTENDING NATIONAL FARMERS UNION CANADIAN WHEAT BOARD MEETING
Agriculture and Food Minister Mark Wartman will attend a meeting hosted by the National Farmers Union (NFU) to support farmer choice on the future of the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB).
The NFU meeting on July 27th in Saskatoon will begin with an outdoor rally at 10:30 a.m. in Kiwanis Park, followed by a meeting at 1:30 p.m. at the Delta Bessborough. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) is hosting a by-invitation-only meeting on the Wheat Board on the same day.
"I strongly support the position that it is the right of all Western Canadian farmers to decide the future of the Canadian Wheat Board," Wartman said. "I do not agree that the closed meeting being hosted by the federal government to discuss the Wheat Board's future is the way to make decisions on this crucial issue - in fact, it is a disservice to Saskatchewan and Western Canadian producers."
Wartman says the AAFC roundtable, that will "hear ideas from a cross-section of western Canadian farmers, stakeholder organizations and others who support the advancement of marketing choice for farmers" – is putting the cart before the horse, as farmers should have the opportunity to decide the future of the CWB before others start planning for a so-called dual market.
"To hold such a meeting, excluding spokespeople for the majority of farmers and key producer organizations – including the Canadian Wheat Board itself – is inappropriate, and an affront to all producers for whom the future of the CWB is a key issue," Wartman said.
"In fact, according to The Canadian Wheat Board Act, it is western Canadian farmers who are responsible for decisions affecting the future of the CWB," Wartman said. "Farmers should be asking their federal Members of Parliament and Minister Strahl why they will not let all western Canadian farmers discuss the future of their Wheat Board."
One of the largest wheat and barley marketers in the world, the Canadian Wheat Board sells grain to more than 70 countries and returns all sales revenue, minus the cost of marketing, to Prairie producers.
Studies on the issue of a dual market system – including one recently commissioned by the Government of Alberta – indicate that the Canadian Wheat Board would not survive in a dual marketing situation.
"A meeting to discuss the implementation of dual marketing is really a meeting to discuss the end of the CWB," Wartman said. "Lack of market power for individual producers selling their production or buying inputs is a critical issue. The Canadian Wheat Board is one institution that gives farmers that critical market power. Now, the new Conservative Government seems intent on taking that away."
"Why would any government choose to reduce the market power of farmers?" Wartman said. "I ask the federal government to let those farmers who support the Canadian Wheat Board have their say in its future. Holding closed-door meetings with a select group of farmers and organizations who do not support the Wheat Board will not result in the best decision for its future or for the farmers it represents. I encourage farmers to attend the real meeting on the future of the Canadian Wheat Board, at the Delta Bessborough on July 27th."
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