Agriculture Food and Rural Initiatives Minister Stan Struthers said today he is speaking out on behalf of all prairie farmers because the federal government is planning to take away farmers’ rights by stripping the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) of its monopoly.
“The federal government is making a big mistake and it’s the farmers that will have to pay for it. This rushed, careless legislation takes a heavy-handed approach which will hurt farmers, their families and the economy as a whole. We won’t just stand by and let them rip the CWB apart,” said Struthers. “Minister Ritz is putting ideology ahead of everything else. This bill is both regressive and anti-democratic.”
Struthers’ comments follow legislation tabled in the House of Commons this morning.
The legislation includes measures to:
- eliminate farmer-elected directors,
- provide for only five government-appointed directors,
- place cabinet in charge of managing the CWB,
- take away the right for farmers to vote on the future of the board, and
- provide no viable solutions for the Port of Churchill.
The CWB is currently owned by farmers and last year its gross revenues were among the highest in its history at $5.8 billion. Its head office in Winnipeg employs over 400 people and supports 2,000 indirect jobs, said the minister, adding it’s also the single-biggest user of the Port of Churchill, shipping 600,000 tonnes of wheat last year alone.
“This bill is worse than anything we could have imagined,” said Struthers. “The federal government is completely eliminating the ability of the CWB to be farmer run. The interim board is government appointed. Minister Ritz is essentially leaving farmers with two options: a privatized company or nothing. There’s no room in his plan for farmer ownership.”