By Leo Howse,

The StarPhoenix, January 27, 2012

If someone had told me the Canadian Wheat Board would have a chairman who was not a farmer, I would have said they were crazy.

How could an organization that represents farmers have anyone other than a farmer as its chair?

But Gerry’s Grain Company is nothing like the former CWB.  It has no farmer-elected directors, as (Agriculture Minister) Gerry Ritz appointed them all.  Its chair is a former grain company executive from a failed grain company.

Instead of making money for farmers, Gerry’s company will be taking money from farmers. It is no longer the farmers’ voice in negotiating freight rates, ocean shipping, blending, or even grain handling fees.

CIBC reports that it expects Viterra alone to earn an extra $40 million to $50 million a year without the CWB.  That’s money coming from farmers.

Some are now calling Ritz’s wheat board another grain company. However, it has no elevators, no agents, no delivery points, few field staff, no terminal elevators, and a mandated life expectancy of five years or less. This doesn’t sound like a winning recipe. It sounds like buying shares in an ostrich farm.

Leo Howse

Porcupine Plain

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