FOR USE: May 18, 2011

(Regina)– The Canadian Wheat Board Alliance (CWBA) condemns today’s announcement by Harper’s Agriculture Minister that he intends to introduce legislation to end the Canadian Wheat Board’s single desk selling responsibilities for wheat and barley for the 2012 crop year.

“The Conservatives have no mandate from farmers to end the single desk” observed Bill Gehl, chairperson of the CWBA, “farmers are only 2% of the population spread over 57 western ridings, and so claiming the Conservative Party has a mandate from farmers to change the Canadian Wheat Board is not credible.”

Just before the Federal election farmers voted to give 80% of the Wheat Board directors’ seats to farmers who support the single desk. At the time Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said the Board’s future was up to farmers. Now after the Federal election Ritz is contradicting his earlier statement by saying he will introduce legislation to remove the single desk.

Gehl pointed out that “the Wheat Board returns better than 98% of sales revenue back to farmers. Without the Board’s single desk, farmers will have to market their crops through the private trade, whose profit margins will lower the returns farmers get from those sales revenues.”

Gehl went on to observe: “every academic study that has had access to the CWB’s books, and several trade inquiries have shown that the Wheat Board increases the farm gate price of grain. It should be obvious to anyone who can run a calculator this is why farmers have consistently supported the Wheat Board’s single desk.”

“We are calling on Prime Minister Harper to respect farmers’ right to democratically choose their marketing system through the elections to the CWB Board of Directors and to respect those election results” concluded Mr. Gehl.

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