(Regina, October 7, 2011)  “The joint announcement by Harper, Ritz, and Wall of a phantom pasta plant if farmers give up the CWB single desk is simply a political stunt to justify ignoring the recently held plebiscite showing a majority of prairie farmers wish to retain the CWB’s single desk for wheat and barley sales” observed Bill Gehl, chair of the CWBA.

“If this company has a viable business plan, the single desk should not be an impediment to their project but it appears that once again we have a group that expects farmers to give up the price premium they receive through the CWB’s single desk.  This amounts to asking farmers to subsidize them with lower prices, and that is not acceptable” Gehl noted.

Several years ago another group called Prairie Pasta developed a business plan for more pasta plants on the prairies.  Ultimately they could not get financing because the economics of processing durum wheat into pasta favours plants closer to major population areas.

“Whether it is wheat flour, pasta, oil sands bitumen or canola, transportation costs have always limited what can be done with value adding on the prairies,” observed Gehl.  “This is especially true in light of Minister Ritz’s oft repeated claims that farmers should be willing to pay more to the railways and the Harper administration’s refusal to undertake a rail costing review.”

“While it is convenient for Harper and Ritz to hide behind this announcement, it makes me wonder how much Federal incentive money has been promised to this company to construct and operate this plant” Gehl concluded.

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