Saskatoon, Sask. – The National Farmers Union (NFU) is expressing its support for the Manitoba Government’s campaign against the federal government’s plan to dismantle the Canadian Wheat Board’s (CWB) single desk. On Monday morning, Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger launched the campaign at the CWB’s head office in Winnipeg by stating that a farmer plebiscite is necessary before any changes to the CWB are considered.
“The NFU supports the stand that the Government of Manitoba is taking against the federal government’s plans to remove the CWB’s single desk. The NFU calls on the federal government to hold a plebiscite on the matter where western wheat and barley farmers can vote on the issue as reasonably laid out in the CWB Act,” stated Boehm.
During the press conference, Selinger also drew attention to the economic benefits that the CWB generates for all Manitobans, including the fact that the CWB posted $5.2 billion in revenues last year and that over 2000 jobs in Manitoba are directly or indirectly linked to the CWB’s operations. “This is a very serious issue for the entire Province of Manitoba, as well as all Western Canadian wheat and barley farmers, and beyond. The CWB puts $1.5 billion extra into farmers’ pockets each and every year. If the single desk is removed, this wealth will be going straight into the pockets of the big grain companies and railroads,” stated NFU President Terry Boehm.
“The CWB generates these benefits at very low cost to the farmer. Estimates peg the total cost of the CWB’s operations at just 9 cents per bushel. By the way, those 9 cents are recovered by the CWB in foreign exchange transactions and favourable borrowing terms that this large entity is able to obtain for farmers. There’s no question that the CWB is extremely efficient. A lot of talented people work there who are able to devote themselves entirely to finding the best prices for our grain. The CWB has played a very large role in making Canada a powerhouse in the global wheat and barley markets,” stated NFU Region 5 Coordinator Ian Robson.
The CWB also plays a very significant role in transportation and grain handling, which enables it to ensure overall efficiency of the grain transportation system and advocate for the interests of farmers. This is crucial because Prairie grain farmers are further from tide water than any global competitor, and railway charges are a grain farmer’s highest cost. Given that the CWB directs grain movement from country elevators to ports it can ensure that producer cars and short line railways are utilized, and that the two big railwaycompanies, CP and CN, are challenged when they have provided poor service or imposed unfair costs on farmers.
“The CWB has been active in pushing for a costing review. It’s clear that the railways are overcharging farmers for shipping their grain, to the tune of $200 million per year. How are farmers going to effectively challenge the railways without the CWB?” stated NFU Board Member Doug Scott.
“The federal government is completely ignoring the fact that the CWB belongs to farmers. We pay for it, and we make the decisions about its operations and the future of the single desk. The federal government is being highly undemocratic by trying to run roughshod over the rights of farmers like this,” said NFU Region 6 Coordinator Ed Sagan.
“We encourage all farmers and citizens to fill out the on-line petition prepared by the Government of Manitoba, which supports the right of farmers to decide the future of the CWB,” stated Boehm.
The on-line petition is located at: