The Canadian Wheat Board s plebiscite on the marketing of Prairie wheat and barley finds just over three out of five Prairie farmers who voted prefer a single marketing desk for wheat but only about half of voters want the status quo for barley.
A total of 38,261 farmers submitted mail-in ballots in the plebiscite, for a participation rate of 56 per cent, which the CWB noted is on par with the last three federal elections and higher than many municipal and provincial elections.
The CWB s chairman and other supporters of the single desk are now calling on the federal government to respect the wishes of voting farmers, but the government has dismissed the vote itself as an expensive survey it plans to ignore.
Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, however, reiterated in a statement that no expensive survey can trump the individual right of farmers to market their own grain.
The government has stated its plans to shut down the CWB s single marketing desks by August next year. Once the Prairie wheat and barley markets are deregulated, Ritz says, every farmer will have the ability to choose how to market their grain, whether it s individually or through a voluntary pooling entity.
Let me repeat: every western Canadian grain farmer will have the right to choose how they market their grain just like farmers in the rest of Canada and around the world.