Prairie Farmers’ Rights Still In Danger at WTO: CWB Chair

Apr 22, 2011 | Corporate Member News

Allen Oberg, chair of the CWB’s farmer-controlled board of directors,  issued the following statement about a report released by the chair of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agriculture Committee.

The report summarizes outstanding issues in agriculture negotiations. The negotiating text for agriculture retains language that would remove the right of western Canadian farmers to determine the future of their grain-marketing structure. It instead allows for key grain competitors to dictate how Prairie farmers must market their grain, should this deal be concluded. The text spells out elimination of “the use of export monopoly powers” of state trading enterprises, which specifically targets the CWB.

Allen Oberg

“As farmers, we must be assured that the Government of Canada will take direct action to protect our rights,” said Oberg, a producer from Forestburg, Alberta. “We must be free to decide among ourselves, through democratic processes, the best way to market our wheat and barley. We cannot allow others to make those decisions – and certainly not the United States and European Union through the WTO.

“A decision in Canada means a decision by farmers. On that point, we must all agree.”

“We are not opposed to a WTO agreement that could provide benefits for western Canadian producers. Unfortunately, in its current form, this deal contains very few tangible improvements for Prairie wheat farmers. Yet it asks for an extraordinary concession in the elimination of the CWB, which has never been shown to be trade distorting.

“Canadian negotiators must require the removal of language targeting the CWB, as a condition for Canada accepting any new WTO agreement on agriculture. Canadian political leaders and negotiators have repeatedly stated that the future of the CWB single desk is a decision to be made in Canada. Steps must be taken to ensure that will remain the case.

Controlled by western Canadian farmers, the CWB is the largest wheat and barley marketer in the world. One of Canada’s biggest exporters, the Winnipeg-based organization sells grain to more than 70 countries and returns all revenue, less marketing costs, to farmers.

For more information, please contact:

Maureen Fitzhenry
CWB media relations manager
Tel: (204) 983-3101
Cell: (204) 227-6927
[email protected]

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