Farmer directors for the Canadian Wheat Board will host six meetings across the Prairies in August to discuss the board’s fate if the federal government proceeds with proposed changes to its single desk monopoly.
“As farmers, we are at the 11th hour and facing a monumental change,” said CWB board chair Allen Oberg, who farms near Forestburg, Alberta in a release. “In a matter of weeks, the government intends to introduce legislation that will permanently remove the single-desk marketing structure for wheat and barley. As elected directors of the CWB, we have a duty to ensure that our stakeholders – the farmers of Western Canada – are as fully informed as possible, so we can all face the future with eyes wide open.”
Oberg said the fate of a multi-billion dollar organization, specifically designed to benefit producers, is being unilaterally decided by government with no analysis of the impacts and no vision for how farmers will be served in its absence.
The government has done nothing to inform producers about the implications, nor even give them a say in whether the CWB single desk should be removed at all, he said.
“Farmers need to understand that, once this change is made, the CWB will be gone forever. We have been presented with no public policy rationale, no economic impact studies, no serious analysis of what this will mean for farmers.”Oberg said the meetings are designed to bring farmers together with other concerned Canadians and their CWB directors for a frank and open discussion.
The first meeting will be held in Regina on August 8. “We want to clarify exactly what is going on and discuss the implications for the future,” he said. “We also want to answer farmers’ questions. We know there are many questions, given the misinformation circulating about what will or won’t happen if the single desk is removed.”
Oberg said directors will also encourage farmers to vote in the current CWB plebiscite, given that the government intends to circumvent producers’ current legal right to a binding vote on the future of their marketing organization. Legislation is planned to be introduced this fall to repeal or amend the Canadian Wheat Board Act, removing the requirement for a farmer plebiscite before dismantling the CWB single desk by August 1, 2012.
Oberg has recently begun a blog at www.cwbeyeswideopen.blogspot.com. Other information, including a short video featuring Oberg on his farm, is also posted on the CWB Web site at www.cwb.ca.
The meetings will be held in Regina, Aug 8, Travelodge 7 p.m.
August 8: Travelodge Regina, 7 p.m.
Saskatoon, Aug. 9, 7 p.m. Saskatoon Inn.
Oak Bluff, Aug 10, 7 p.m. Oak Bluff Recreation Centre
Dauphin, Man. Aug. 11, 7 p.m.Ukrainian Orthodox Auditorium, 8th Ave.
Medicine Hat, Aug 15, 7 p.m. Medicine Hat Exhibition & Stampede (Higdon Hall), 2055-21st Ave. SE
Camrose, Alta, Aug. 16, 7 p.m.,Camrose Regional Exhibition (CRE)- Gold Room, 4250 Exhibition Dr.