Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP), once a steadfast supporter of the Canadian Wheat Board, now accepts the board is going lose its single desk.
Manitoba’s largest farm group now wants to ensure farmers benefit from the controversial change, says KAP president Doug Chorney.
“We’re just facing the reality of the circumstances that we find ourselves in,” he said in an interview from Ottawa before meeting with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada officials Sept. 23. “At some point you have to adapt to the reality of your situation.”
KAP’s standing policy on the wheat board states in part that “KAP supports the balance offered by both an inclusion and an exclusion option (for crops), providing producers have the final say.”
As recently as June Chorney repeated KAP’s position publicly, but now he says it’s clear the government is moving ahead despite what KAP says.
“So we need to look at how we can be effective for our membership so it’s done without any negative consequences on producers,” Chorney said.
Wild Rose Agricultural Producers (WRAP), KAP’s sister organization in Alberta, has a similar wheat board policy.
However, WRAP last week issued a news release calling on the federal government to respect the wheat board’s plebiscite, which saw 62 and 51 per cent of western Canadian farmers vote to keep the single desks for wheat and barley, respectively.
“I know for certain we’re not coming out with any statement suggesting that government needs to adhere to the plebiscite,” Chorney said in response.
WRAP and KAP’s divergent postures are out of sync with years of polling that shows support for the board’s single desk is strongest among Manitoba farmers and weakest in Alberta.
“Wild Rose’s policy is we believe producers should make the decision regarding their marketing,” WRAP president Humphrey Banack said in an interview.
WRAP, like KAP, has members on both sides of the CWB schism. But WRAP’s board policy is long-standing, Banack said.
“Even the open-marketers respect that –we (farmers) should be deciding.”
Among other public policy issues, KAP continues to push for improved AgriRecovery support for cattle producers.
It’s also pushing the Manitoba government to remove education taxes from property and drop the western route for Manitoba Hydro’s Bipole III project.
“That’s because I haven’t met a single member who isn’t really upset about Bipole III and the west route,” Chorney said.
— Allan Dawson is a reporter with the Manitoba Co-operator at Miami, Man. The unabridged version of this article appears in the Sept. 29 Co-operator, page 1.