Western Canadian wheat and barley farmers will have the freedom to market their grain as they choose and the true economic potential of the prairie grain sector will be unleashed by The Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act tabled today by Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. An open grain market will attract investment, encourage innovation, create value-added jobs, and build a stronger economy for all Canadians. Minister Ritz made the announcement at an Ontario wheat farm, where farmers already enjoy the freedom to market their wheat and barley products as they choose.

The Honourable Gerry Ritz

“The Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act will give Western Canadian grain farmers the right to choose how they sell their wheat and barley,” said Minister Ritz. “Our Government is delivering on our long-standing promise to give Western Canadian grain farmers marketing freedom, just as they have when selling their canola or pulses.”

The Canadian Wheat Board monopoly was imposed on Western Canadian farmers by Parliament in 1943 when Canada was committed to supplying inexpensive wheat to Britain during World War II. The legislation tabled today will remove the monopoly of the Canadian Wheat Board and give marketing choice to all farmers, returning to farmers the right to market their wheat and barley in the best interest of their individual farms and businesses.

Farmers will have the choice of whether to sell on an open market or through a voluntary CWB. The legislation will allow an interim Canadian Wheat Board to act as a voluntary marketing entity, supported by the federal Government while it transitions to full private ownership. The legislation will also immediately allow farmers and companies to forward contract for the delivery of grain after August 1, 2012.

As part of the ongoing commitment to farmers and the importance of the Port of Churchill as a shipping option, the Harper Government will provide an economic incentive of up to $5 million per year for five years to support shipments of grain, including oilseeds, pulses and special crops, through the Port of Churchill. We will also provide support through funding of up to $4.1 million over three years to maintain the Port during the transition period. In addition, the port infrastructure project presently funded through an agreement with the Churchill Gateway Development Corporation will be extended to 2015. Finally, in consultation with all stakeholders, our Government will explore options for the future of Churchill and the Port of Churchill.

“The economy is the top priority of the Harper Government,” said Member of Parliament Joyce Bateman (Winnipeg-South Centre). “Our comprehensive plan will provide farmers with the marketing freedom they want, entrepreneurs with the opportunity they deserve, and support for the Port of Churchill as it continues to play an important role for farmers and for the North.”

Working with Western Canadian grain farmers, their organizations and provincial partners, the Harper Government is committed to an orderly transition to market freedom which includes a viable, voluntary pooling entity, as part of an open and competitive Canadian grain market.

Additional information can be found at www.agr.gc.ca/freedom.

Backgrounders

For more information, media may contact:

Media Relations
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Ottawa, Ontario
613-773-7972
1-866-345-7972

Meagan Murdoch
Director of Communications
The Office of the Honourable Gerry Ritz
613-773-1059