Wednesday, 10 August 2011
Coronation Review

Dear Editor,

Your July 21 paper has a letter by Jan Koanradt, “Property rights finally respected” about our Canadian Wheat Board. It is so full of errors it is hard to know where to start.

First, he is wrong about selling grain to the Wheat Board. The Wheat Board acts as an agent to sell our grain directly to end use customers. Farmers are perfectly free to sell their own grain outside the CWB anywhere they want using the Producer Direct Sales Program, and many, like some organic producers, do so very successfully.

Secondly, it is wrong to say the Auditor General of Canada has never audited the Wheat Board. In February 27, 2002, Sheila Fraser, Canada’s Auditor General published the results of her and her staff’s 10,000 person-hour audit which gave the Board a clean bill of health.

Mr. Koanradt also did not understand what the CWB chairman, Mr. Oberg said regarding bricks and mortar. Mr Oberg said that the CWB is not allowed to have “retained earnings.” That is auditor speak which in plain English means the CWB returns more that 98 per cent of sales revenue back to farmers rather than giving a cut to various middlemen like bankers and shareholders. This is different than owning things like buildings and ships, which the CWB has. Speaking of which, the CWB purchased two ships for use in the Great Lakes and the seaway, not four freighters.

Mr. Koanradt is also wrong to believe there will be a lot of competition without the CWB. In fact, five giant grain companies now handle 80 per cent of all of the grain grown on the planet. Without the single desk, the CWB would have to rely on one of these giants to handle grain it has a sale for. Why would these giants help a competitor get access to rail and port facilities?

MNP is conducting the CWB plebiscite. Deloitte and Touche do the annual CWB audit. The bottom line is that 14 International Trade Tribunals usually conducted by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Auditor General of Canada and many peer reviewed academic studies have all found the Wheat Board is a fair trader that gets premium prices for western farmers.

It is wrong to claim the CWB was responsible for jailing farmers. A few malcontents were jailed because they broke the Canada Customs Act and they were apprehended by Canada Boarder Services. The Wheat Board had nothing to do with this. Obviously Mr. Koanradt has not paid close attention to the details of grain marketing since these are all facts on the public record.

Harvey Thomas
Alliance, Ab.

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