Wheat board changes could allow new marketing
The federal government has released a report that says the opportunities in ending the Canadian Wheat Board's marketing monopoly will outweigh and overcome any potential challenges.
The report contains recommendations from a working group tasked with advising Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz on how the grain marketing system can adapt in an open market.
The group says there were a lot of questions, but it also says open markets for other crops show the system can work.
It adds that the wheat board needs to get on with preparing for the change and recommends the minister consider developing a business model if the board will not do so.
Board supporters say the monopoly gives farmers stability, but opponents say it restricts farmers from marketing their grain to the highest bidder.
The working group says some of the concerns about eliminating the monopoly represent fear of change rather than real roadblocks that would prevent producers and the system from adjusting.
Ritz, who has long promised to end the board's marketing monopoly, welcomed the report.
"Farmers have the skills and knowledge to adapt and adjust to selling their wheat and barley on the open market, in the same way they are succeeding with other crops," he said.
Just over 60 per cent of Prairie wheat growers and 51 per cent of barley growers voted in favour of maintaining the monopoly in a vote organized by the board earlier this month.
Fifty-five per cent of eligible wheat producers and 47 per cent of barley growers participated in the vote.