National Farmers Union Appeals to Government


TORONTO — The National Farmers Union (NFU) in Ontario has asked Minister Gerry Ritz, minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and minister for the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB), for the right to decide the future of the CWB — Western Canada’s grain marketing monopoly, which is in the process of being dismantled.

The legislation to end the CWB should receive approval by late 2011 or early 2012, and the Board has five years to implement a business plan to survive in an open market.

To address the issue, the NFU has issued an open letter, which is copied below.

Dear Minister Ritz,

In solidarity with prairie grain farmers, the National Farmers Union (NFU) in Ontario, is asking that farmers be given their democratic right to decide the future of the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB). If passed, Bill C-18, the ‘sMarketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act,’ introduced by your government on Oct. 18, will be devastating for family farms across Western Canada.

The CWB is a unique institution, created by Canadian farmers, to give farmers real power in the marketplace. Without the power the CWB’s single-desk, farmers will return to being held captive by a handful of powerful, multinational grain companies. More of the wealth created on Canadian farms will leave our rural communities and go straight into the pockets these giant grain buyers. 

Section 47.1 of the Canadian Wheat Board Act requires that changes to the single-desk be made through a democratic process among prairie grain farmers.  Therefore, the future of the CWB is not up to MPs in Ottawa but farmers themselves. A few years ago farmers in Ontario were granted a vote regarding the future of their single-desk selling agency, the Ontario Wheat Board. Prairie grain farmers must be given the same dignity and must be allowed to choose whether or not to maintain the single-desk of the CWB.

Prairie grain farmers continue to show strong support for the CWB. They have always elected at least eight out of 10 pro-single desk supporters from among their peers to serve on the CWB’s Board of Directors. Moreover, in the recent plebiscite held this past summer, 62 per cent of wheat farmers and 51 per cent of barley farmers voted to maintain the single-desk. Therefore, farmers themselves must be front and centre in any debate concerning the future of the CWB.   

As Ontario farmers, committed to standing in solidarity with our fellow farmers in Western Canada, we ask you to let farmers decide the fate of the CWB, through a democratic process. We further ask you to cease your efforts to destroy the CWB, which will lead to the destruction of family grain farms. A democratically elected government in Canada should act in the interests of Canadians, not in the interests of multinational grain corporations.

Yours sincerely,

Joe Dama, NFU Region 3 (Ontario) Coordinator

On behalf of Regional Council, National Farmers Union, Region 3 (Ontario)

R.R. 5 Guelph, ON

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