By Murray Hidlebaugh,
The StarPhoenix
November 17, 2010

Canadian Wheat Board elections are currently underway in the odd-numbered districts.
In each district there are candidates who support the retention of the CWB and others who want to dismantle the board. The way for farmers to tell the difference is that pro-CWB candidates are very clear that they support “only the single desk option.”

Anti-CWB candidates propose options to the single desk and the need to change the board so that farmers can “make their own business decisions” and “have the flexibility to reap the benefits from opportunities lost by the CWB.”

This discussion reminds me of the arguments put forward by the proponents involved in dismantling the Crow’s Nest Pass freight rate agreement in 1995. Farmers were told that the Crow was a major impediment to value added processing on the Prairies and they were losing millions of dollars.

The farmers’ freedom to prosper required that the Crow Rate be ended. Farmers were given what amounted to about a two-year pay-out, which was to be a transition to the new growth economy. To date, farmers have paid millions in higher freight rates and there has been no significant value added processing of any kind in the wheat and barley sector on the Prairies.

I encourage all undecided farmers to make as informed a decision as possible on the CWB. It’s important to be involved, and more important to be aware of the underlying issues. The Crow debate taught us that.

Murray Hidlebaugh

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