Saskatoon, Sask. – The National Farmers Union (NFU) is calling the consultation process on CWB dismantlement being conducted by the working group formed by Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, a sham. “This was a classic attempt to try and legitimize hasty and destructive decisions. It was no accident that these meetings were held behind closed doors, and were held in the middle of the busiest time of the year for farmers. What is the rush?,“ asked NFU President Terry Boehm.
In July, Ritz announced the formation of a working group whose purpose was to investigate the transition to an open market during the wind down of the CWB. The consultations are being held through late August, and the working group is scheduled to submit its report on September 15th.
“The working group does not even include those who are actually impacted by this change. There was no representation from farm groups other than the Grain Growers of Canada (historically anti-CWB single desk), and there is no representation from the producer cars and short line railway groups. The fact is every member of that working group was chosen for no other reason than because they agree with the direction this government is taking,” stated NFU President Terry Boehm.
Questions have also been raised about the degree to which the working group is actually considering the real implications that the possible elimination of the CWB’s single desk will have for farmers.
“It was readily apparent that the working group has not thought very much about who will defend farmers when they face trade challenges. The CWB has been a key ally in winning those battles with the United States. They also seemed quite unprepared to explain how producer cars are going to work without the single desk in place. The fact is producer cars and short lines are going to be in real trouble without the CWB, and they know it,” stated NFU member Fred Tait.
“It is absolutely clear that the federal Conservative government is not concerned about the best interests of farmers, or even what their opinion is regarding the CWB. There has been no genuine attempt whatsoever to ask farmers what they really think and what their concerns are on this issue,” stated Boehm.