FOR USE: July 4, 2011

(Regina)– Agriculture Minister Ritz claims destroying the Canadian Wheat Board is justified because it will encourage more value adding on the prairies.

“You have to question his grasp of the basic economic facts of value adding. With our very high transportation costs, does it really make sense, for example, to bake bread on the prairies and ship it to Toronto or Hong Kong?” asked Bill Gehl, chairperson of the Canadian Wheat Board Alliance.

“You also have to wonder about the Minister’s logic in this. Is he saying farmers should take less for their grain to subsidize value adding projects?”

Gehl then went on to point out that the chief executive of Cargill’s Canadian subsidiary, Mr. Len Penner does not agree with Minister Ritz that scrapping the Wheat Board will increase value adding. In the May 19th Manitoba Cooperator Mr. Penner is reported as indicating that scrapping the Wheat Board is not “likely to entice construction of more plants in Western Canada to mill wheat or turn barley into malt.”

“Does Minister Ritz think huge multinational processors will simply absorb the extra costs of dealing with thousands of individual farmers instead of our Wheat Board’s single desk with its quality guarantee?” asked Gehl.

“If Minister Ritz is allowed to destroy the Wheat Board’s single desk then its market development and its ability to provide a reliable supply of wheat and malt barley would be lost and that will hurt both farmers and value added processors. In the end, it means lower prices for farmers.” observed Gehl.

Mr. Gehl concluded by saying “obviously no informed opinion agrees with Minister Ritz’s ideas about value adding. He has a responsibility to provide something beyond catch phrases to justify his destruction of our Wheat Board.”

For further information call Bill Gehl.

For more information on Value Adding, click here

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