NFU says MASC should administer wheat and barley check-off dollars

(Oct. 28, 2013 - Deleau, MB) – The National Farmers Union Region 5 (Manitoba) has recommended to the Manitoba Minister of Agriculture and Rural Initiatives that the existing Commission Model for the Proposed Wheat and Barley Checkoff dollars (as outlined on page 25 of the October 17 Manitoba Cooperator) not be implemented. Instead, the NFU recommends to Minister Kostyshyn that Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation (MASC) be assigned to administer farmer check-off funds collected on wheat and barley.

“MASC has financial management tools and processes already in place to service farmers and farm programs, and crop insurance data would give information that could inform the public interest research projects funded by the check-off dollars, ” said Fred Tait, an NFU member and former NFU vice president who farms near Rossendale. “It just makes sense to use this existing administrative structure. It’s also the fairest mechanism, and the only one that will prevent an organization from receiving any financial benefit from what is effectively a subsidy to industrial interests paid by wheat and barley producers.”

“MASC could collaborate with farmers, funding agencies and wheat and barley researchers to ensure that the check-off dollars from each tonne of the crops sold by Manitoba farmers maximizes returns to farmers and ensure research results are public. Crop varieties in the public sphere will benefit farmers because they will cost less,” added Bev Stow, NFU Board member.

NFU Region 5 (Manitoba) Coordinator Ian Robson is concerned that farmers’ voices will be diminished in the Commissions that are replacing the farmer-controlled Canadian Wheat Board’s  marketing and branding services dismantled by Minister Ritz, as well as in the Cereals Council.

'We know from observing existing crop commissions that the direction of their work can be easily captured by agribusiness interests, and this frequently does not actually help farmers,” noted Robson. “For example, the Canola Growers have not opposed glyphosate-resistant alfalfa, which farmers don’t want or need.”

“As a public agency that works in the public interest, MASC is in the best position to look after the financial administration of all Manitoba farm programs, including the wheat and barley check-off and a farmers’ research program,” Tait stressed.

The NFU also asked that the Minister hold a plebiscite of all wheat and barley growers to gauge farmer support before any wheat and barley check-off commission is implemented.

“We presented our recommendation when we met with Minister Kostyshyn earlier this month. He listened to our proposal and rationale with interest, however, we are still waiting for his response,” concluded Bev Stow.

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For more information, contact:

Ian Robson, NFU Region 5 (Manitoba) Coordinator:         (204) 858-2479

Fred Tait, NFU member (Manitoba):                               (204) 252-2773

Bev Stow, NFU Region 5 (Manitoba) Board Member:      (204) 745-3252