Wednesday, November 17, 2010

“Single desk” candidates versus “change” candidates

It's been said that the CWB director candidates that have stated their support for the single desk are being more honest than the ones that have not declared.  Kevin Hursh, the ag commentator from Saskatoon, even suggested the ones who have not declared were trying to mask what they truly believe.  He and others in the media want candidates to come clean on this one issue.

This is fascinating to me; some candidates are being criticized for not stating "front and centre" their view of the single desk.  Yet the single desk candidates are being lauded for taking a position on the single desk issue, even though they don’t have anything to say about real marketing issues in any of their election material.  They just say we must keep the single desk because its what gives farmers power, or gives farmers better prices.

In the interests of full disclosure, I have some questions for all the single desk supporting candidates:
  1. How do you rationalize your support for the single desk in the face of so much real evidence (even from the CWB itself) that shows that the single desk is not getting top returns for farmers and is arguable an economic drain on Western Canada? 
  2. Why do you state your firm support for the single desk and yet never talk about its marketing performance on behalf of farmers?
  3. Why do you only talk about the non-marketing activities of the CWB – fighting the railroads, WTO, GMO wheat, and other advocacy roles – but don’t talk in detail about marketing? 

Not one single desk supporting candidate has ventured a public comment about the durum wheat fiasco we are facing right now.  None talk about feed barley exports and how the CWB program is costing all farmers.  And none address the problems with feed wheat pricing.   

If the single desk marketing system is a fundamental part of your platform, why not address these issues? 

Arguing your case on the basis of whether you are for or against the single desk reduces the election to nothing more than an ideological exercise that is, for all intents and purposes, a stalemate.  Apparently this is what the media would like to see.

You will never convince some people that there are any problems at all with the single desk.  And others will never venture off the “just get rid of the CWB” position.  Focusing on a singular issue like this disenfranchises the majority of producers out there that are sensible business men and women and would appreciate a sound business approach to CWB governance.  When candidates put themselves in one category or another on just the single desk issue, it doesn’t give these people much to go on.  Business-minded farmers want a director to just get on with the business of making the CWB work for them.  As Vicki Dutton, candidate in District 5 put it in her election material, either “lead, follow or get out of the way”.

Embracing an ideological position without facts is an impediment to sound judgment.  What should matter is if these candidates are willing and capable to make the appropriate decisions to make things at the CWB better for farmers.  Sorry to be blunt, but those candidates that take a strong stance in defense of the single desk, just appear to be close-minded to me.

What would they do if it was shown that the single desk is not working and there’s a better approach?  What if it was proven that a dual market could work very well?  I suspect these candidates would still vote to keep the single desk.

If you're not capable of arguing about the details about marketing with or without the single desk, perhaps you don’t have the depth to be a CWB director.  The real way to govern the CWB is to put your ideology aside for minute, and rationally and reasonably assess the issues for what they are.  Then address them in the most effective way possible for the benefit of farmers (not for the benefit of the CWB).

What concerns me are directors who say they will protect the single desk on ideological grounds and ignore what the CWB’s own data is telling him.  What I appreciate is someone who says – if it needs fixing, let’s do what is needed.

Single desk directors and their supporters have had their chances to fix the single desk and they have failed.  It seems to me that if someone is willing to face reality and make things better, then they should have a crack at it, regardless of their "ideology". 

And under the circumstances, it’s pretty clear that the single desk would be targeted - at least by those who have not stated their position on the single desk.

1 comment:

  1. One question that I ask and it is usually not answered: what percentage of your own farm sales constitute CWB grains? If candidates were true to their dogma that number should be high.