Wheat Board to Vote on Grain Sales Monopoly

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OTTAWA — The Canadian Wheat Board is set to conduct a farmers’ vote on the future of grain-trade monopoly this summer.

Farmers in Western Canada are currently required to sell their wheat and barley for export or human consumption to the Wheat Board. However, some farmers believe they will be able to get better prices by negotiating deals in Canada and the U.S., without the Board’s involvement.

Although it won’t be binding, a referendum by farmers is required to end the monopoly on grain sales by the Wheat Board. “Our preference would have been a fair and binding federal plebiscite,” Allen Oberg, the wheat board chairman, is quoted as saying by Reuters.

Meanwhile, the Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz dismissed the vote as irrelevant. “No plebiscite must ever trump the rights of those farmers who want to choose how they market their own grain,” the minister is quoted as saying by the Canadian Press.

As it stands, although the Wheat Board needs a plebiscite by farmers before leaving crops out of the monopoly, the federal government is expected to pass legislation this fall to end the grain monopoly by August 2012.

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