FOR USE: May 9, 2011

(Regina)– Many western farmers feel some sympathy for the dilemma Prime Minister Harper faces appointing a new agriculture Minister. Although his caucus has several rural members, few of them are successful farmers.

Just before the Federal election farmers voted to give 80% of the Wheat Board directors’ seats to farmers who support the single desk. In response Prime Minister Harper’s Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said the Board’s future was up to farmers. Now, just days after the Federal election Canadian Press is reporting former Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz is contradicting his earlier statement by saying he will now remove the single desk whether the Wheat Board’s farmer elected Directors like it or not.

“Former Minister Ritz needs to remember that farmers are only 2% of the population and are spread over 57 western ridings, so claiming the Conservative Party has a mandate from farmers to change the Canadian Wheat Board is not credible” noted Bill Gehl, chairperson of the CWB Alliance, a group of farmers who support the Wheat Board.

Gehl observed: “virtually every academic study and trade inquiry has shown that the Wheat Board increases the farm gate price of grain. It should be obvious to anyone who can run a calculator that is why farmers have consistently supported the Wheat Board’s single desk.”

“We are calling on Prime Minister Harper to appoint an agriculture minister who understands the importance of the Canadian Wheat Board’s single desk to western Canadian farmers and who will respect farmers’ rights to democratically chose their marketing system through the elections to the Board of Directors of the Wheat Board” concluded Mr. Gehl.

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