Monday, October 18, 2010

Why Barley?

In the last four years the feed barley pool has dropped from about a million tonnes to a mere 30,900 tonnes in 08-09 (both A and B pools combined).  Previous years have also seen very low tonnages in the barley pool.  Although the 09-10 results have not yet been reported, the CWB has already stated that there were no deliveries in pool B.

Most of the pooled feed barley goes through an EPO and the number of producers using the EPO is reported in the Annual Report.  Using the EPO participation numbers as a guide, I would say a couple of thousand producers – at best – have been delivering to the feed barley pool.  More recently, it’s even less; practically all the barley in the 08-09 Pool B was delivered by only 113 producers. 

It’s a tougher number to estimate, but I’m going to stick my neck out and guesstimate that the number of producers selling malt barley to the CWB is around 10,000 each year (works out to about 240 tonnes per producer).

The CWB says they work for 75,000 Western Canadian farmers.  But when it comes to barley, I figure with less than 2,000 farmers using the feed pool and 10,000 selling malt barley, more than 87% of the producers out there are not participating in the CWB’s activities in barley. (The CWB’s cash trading in feed barley doesn’t count; it’s a drag on domestic prices, hurting all barley producers, whether they sell to the CWB or not.)

Last June, the CWB surveyed 900 Western Canadian producers.  In that survey, 48% said they “prefer” “solely the CWB” to be in barley marketing.  But if 87% of producers aren’t even using the CWB for barley marketing, that leaves 13% that do.  And we know that many producers that sell barley to the CWB would prefer not to. 

It seems that instead of 48%, less than 13% of Western Canadian producers prefer the CWB in barley (demonstrated by actual deliveries).

So instead of survey results that show the CWB has 48% support in barley, I prefer to look at the estimated 13% of Western Canadian producers that market barley through the CWB as an indication of CWB support in barley.  The other 87% either don’t grow barley or don’t find what the CWB has to offer as beneficial or attractive.

How would the CWB board of directors react to less than 13% support in barley? 
How should they react?

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