CWB deregulation off government’s radar, for now

(Resource News International) — Changes to the Canadian Wheat Board are off the federal government’s radar for the time being, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said Monday.

Canada’s minority Conservative government has promised in the past to end the CWB’s current single-desk monopoly on barley and wheat marketing in Western Canada, and has considered introducing legislation in the House of Commons to do so, although all sitting opposition parties have pledged support for the single desk.

The CWB also recently held elections for five of the 10 farmer-elected members of its board of directors. Four of the five farmer-directors who won campaigned on a policy of maintaining the single desk and thus keep the balance of opinion on the board in favour of maintaining the monopoly

“At this point we’re holding back on legislation,” Ritz said during a teleconference Monday with reporters, when he was asked about the government’s plans in relation to the CWB.

While the Conservatives were still committed to making changes to the CWB, getting a bill passed was not “on my radar screen in the next short time,” Ritz said.

He would not specify how long it may be before a bill regarding the CWB is introduced, but noted that in the meantime his office would concentrate on trade issues and other fronts to help farmers in the country.

Ritz made his comments during a teleconference dealing with his latest trade mission to India and Hong Kong. Ritz said trade missions to other key Canadian trading partners were also in the works.

“We’re still committed to doing that (making changes to the CWB), but it has to be in the best interest of producers,” said Ritz.

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