Wednesday, October 27, 2010

It's all about listening and responding

Did you know?

For at least the last 12 years the CWB has surveyed farmers on a variety of issues, from attitudes about agriculture to preferred marketing systems.

The proportion of farmers who were surveyed over the years who support the status quo (single desk) on barley ranged from 22% to 36%.

The CWB has done nothing.

In January of 2007, CWB officials met with Minister Gerry Ritz in Ottawa.  In attendance were senior officials from the malting companies and the President of the Malting Industry Association of Canada.  These representatives explained that the malting industry would not invest any more capital in the malt industry in Canada as long as the CWB has single desk marketing authority.  They were demanding changes.

The CWB did nothing.

The Canadian malt industry kept to its word and has not invested in any new capacity.  However, since that time, China has built a great deal of capacity and continues to import Canadian malt barley and has now increased exports of malt dramatically.  (From practically zero in 2004 to an estimated 375,000 tonnes in 2010.)

We have effectively exported our malting industry to China.

In March of 2007, the Federal Government held a non-binding plebiscite on barley marketing.  Farmers voted and only 38% supported the status quo.

CWB Chairman Ken Ritter said:
“The results of the barley plebiscite announced today are not overly surprising. The CWB has been surveying farmers every year for the past 10 years and these results appear to be consistent with our annual findings.”

The CWB has known farmers’ views on the single desk for over ten years, and they have done nothing.  They know the impact the single desk is having on the barley value added industry, and they've done nothing.

Earlier this year, the CWB hired a consultant to study the malt barley industry.  The consultant apparently told the CWB:
o   The Pool and CashPlus need to offer producers better price signals.
o   The Pool and CashPlus need to offer malt companies improved delivery liquidity.

As far as I know, the CWB has done nothing with this study.  

The CWB operates on behalf and for the benefit of farmers.  Democratically, the majority of farmers have told the CWB over and over they don’t want the single desk on barley; and the malt industry has told it in different ways what needs to be done to improve the malt industry (which also would benefit farmers).  However, rather than act on any of this, the CWB does nothing but continue to argue adamantly that one of the options presented, the dual market, will not work. (I believe it can.)

This is all about listening and responding.  Farmers know what is best for themselves.  They need directors sitting at the CWB board table who won’t override farmers’ interests with their own ideology.  

(I will send copies of the recent CWB surveys if anyone asks.  Drop me a line at .)

1 comment:

  1. This is a beautiful post. I am a young farmer in Saskatchewan who struggles to understand how every farmer I know is able to grow and sell cash crops like canola without the help of a bureaucracy like the wheat board, yet stubbornly hold on to the notion that the CWB benefits them on all their other crops. Posts like these, concise and with hard numbers put in a format that drives straight to a producer's mindset, provide me with potent ammo whenever I enter into a debate. Hope you don't mind my plagiarizing your hard work.