Farmers to Hold Their Own Plebiscite on Future of CWB

Jun 28, 2011 | Corporate Member News

Note: Allen Oberg, chair of the CWB board of directors, will hold a news teleconference at 2 p.m. CDT to answer media questions. MEDIA ONLY are invited to join the call at 1-800-319-4610 (no passcode).

The CWB’s farmer-controlled board of directors announced today that producers will hold their own plebiscite on the future of their grain-marketing organization.

Allen Oberg

“Producers have the right, under current law, to vote on whether their grain is marketed through a single-desk structure,” said CWB chair Allen Oberg, a farmer from Forestburg, Alberta. “The federal government plans to change the law this fall to dismantle the CWB single desk without a farmer plebiscite.

“We, as the CWB’s board of directors, feel compelled to offer producers this opportunity to express their wishes in a democratic way. Our preference would have been a fair and binding federal plebiscite. We now call on the government to listen to farmers and respect the results of this plebiscite.”

Oberg said the shift to farmer control of the CWB in 1998 included amending The Canadian Wheat Board Act to ensure farmers would have a voice.

“Farmers were given the power to elect two-thirds of its governing board, and they were given the right to vote on major changes to its single-desk approach. That right is now being taken away.

“The government says the federal election results are a mandate from Prairie farmers to make change. We disagree. A fair plebiscite will settle this question.”

Oberg said the future of the CWB is a crucial issue for grain producers.

“We face a monumental change that will have major implications for our sales returns, risk management and overall power in the grain industry. Farmers have the right to be asked.”

The CWB board of directors met this morning to make the decision to proceed with a plebiscite. Wheat and barley producers will be asked a clear and unambiguous question as per recommendations endorsed by Canadian farm groups in 2006 (see appendix below). Consistent with Section 47.1 of The Canadian Wheat Board Act, eligible voters will be producers of wheat and barley, with “producers” defined in accordance with the Act.

An independent third party will be contracted to administer the balloting, which will take place over the summer. Further details of the plebiscite will be announced next week.

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] 

Appendix.

CWB plebiscite ballot questions

(in accordance with recommendation endorsed in 2006 by Keystone Agricultural Producers, Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan, Wild Rose Agricultural Producers and the National Farmers Union)

Wheat

A) I wish to maintain the ability to market all wheat, with the continuing exception of feed wheat sold domestically, through the CWB single desk system

B) I wish to remove the single desk marketing system from the CWB and sell all wheat through an open market system.

Barley

A) I wish to maintain the ability to market all barley, both malting/food, with the continuing exception of feed barley sold domestically, through the CWB single desk system.

B) I wish to remove the single desk marketing system from the CWB and sell all barley through an open market system.

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