Proposed wheat commissions a poor substitute for CWB as advocate for wheat and wheat farmers, says NFU

(Saskatoon)- A chasm in the wheat sector in western Canada was opened when Bill C-18 was passed in defiance of the rule of law and against the wishes of a majority of wheat farmers. It ended the democratic farmer control of the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) and its single-desk authority. Now, there are various interests seeking to start wheat commissions which would be funded by check-offs (a per bushel levy on all wheat sold) collected from farmers. We know from observing existing crop commissions that they can be easily captured by agribusiness interests and frequently do not actually help farmers.

“The establishment of various wheat commissions on the prairies is a sorry substitute for the marketing power the CWB brought farmers,” said Terry Boehm, National Farmers Union President. “Farmers are familiar with all sorts of check-off commissions and they know none of them bring the direct monetary benefits of the CWB single-desk,” he added.

“This is going to be another cost to farmers, and we think people are further ahead to support the court challenges to get back the farmer-controlled democratic CWB that we had until December of 2011,” said Ian Robson, Manitoba NFU Coordinator. “The NFU has always spoken up for farmers and advocated for those things that really benefit farmers,” he stated.

“Gerry Ritz and the Harper government appear intent on turning back time to when farmers had no power and no institutions to advance their interests,” added Boehm. “If the federal government’s wrecking ball continues, there will be nothing functional left. I thought their vision was 100 years old, but I’m now thinking it goes back a good 200 years to feudal times,” emphasized Boehm.

“We have been served well by the Canadian Grain Commission, the Canadian Wheat Board and other regulatory bodies. Now Ritz and crowd are promoting wheat commissions, which in the end will be little more than industry fronts to push forward with genetically-engineered wheat, and impose restrictions on farm-saved seed,” said Ed Sagan, NFU Saskatchewan Regional Coordinator.

The NFU encourages farmers and non-farmers alike to support the class action to reinstate the CWB.

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For more information:

Terry Boehm, NFU President: 011 33 3 44 04 82 75 

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

Ed Sagan, NFU Saskatchewan Regional Coordinator: (306) 728-3760 or (306) 728-9050

Cathy Holtslander, NFU Director of Research and Policy: (306) 652-9465