Wheat Board monopoly to end in 2012: minister
The Conservative government will use its majority in the House of Commons to end the Canadian Wheat Board's monopoly on marketing wheat and barley, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said Wednesday.
The government will likely introduce legislation this fall, Ritz said, with the changes expected to take effect in August 2012.
"Everybody recognizes the complexity of this," Ritz told reporters in Ottawa. "It's going to take a certain amount of work.
"At the end of the day, certainly, there's a role for the wheat board to play. We'll have to work out just what exactly what that is."
The board, which dates back to the Great Depression, has been the focus of a bitter battle between the Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and proponents of the marketing board.
The Conservatives have long fought to end the board's monopoly powers over the marketing of wheat and barley in Canada in favour of a dual marketing system that they say would give farmers a choice in how they market their grain.
Responding to questions about supply management boards, which are in place for farm products including eggs and milk, Ritz said the government "absolutely" supports them.
For farmers such as Kevin Bender, the move to end the wheat board's rule is long overdue.
"Something we've been waiting for for years and we are very encouraged that the government is on board and has pledged to move ahead on it," the spokesman for the Western Canadian Wheat Growers told CBC News.
He said his group had been promised that if the Conservatives won a majority, the wheat board's monopoly would be lifted.