The Ritz/Raitt command to the railways to move a million tonnes of grain a week or else is full of irony.  It will not change the fact the prairie crop has been stranded which has pushed farm prices down by half.  It was perfectly predicable and the government was certainly warned.

Since there will also be a huge carryover of old crop into the new crop year that also means prices for western farmers will not recover for a long time unless there is a massive crop failure in the near future.  This mess is the consequence of Agriculture Minister Ritz and his Prime Minister’s reckless and thoughtless destruction of the CWB.

Certainly there were logistical problems under the farmer controlled CWB, however the farmer controlled CWB identified the root problem and decisively fixed it in 1998 when they successfully sued those responsible and tuned up the system for the next ten years.

As the March 8, 2014 Regina Leader-Post reports, Ottawa is not even enforcing its own laws:

“Among the last reports prepared by a still-independent Canadian Wheat Board was the second study by rail analyst John Edsforth, both of which pointed out that Prairie farmers were overpaying by as much as $275 million a year to transport their crops, compared to what is considered fair under the federal grain transportation law.  The government response was to kill the wheat board.”  Emphasis added

Without some organization with the legislated power to manage grain transportation logistics as the farmer controlled CWB did so well, this problem will not be solved, even by orders carved in stone tablets and brought down from the Prime Minister’s office by his Cabinet.

Ottawa does not want to recognize that the grain companies are the proximate cause of all this.  As yesterday’s blog and many other articles and sources demonstrate, it is the grain companies who now get the lion’s share of the money farmers once got for their grain.  In fact, farmers now get less than 40% of the grain cheque and the railways and grain companies are now taking the other 60%.

The numbers from the farmer controlled CWB confirm just how huge the grain robbery this past couple of years has been.  For example, consider the CWB annual report on the 2009/10 crop year when farmers ran the show.

Gross revenue of $5.1 billion, minus the $630 million paid to the grain companies and railways to move the grain, leaving farmers with $4.3 billion, or 84% of the grain cheque.

At 84% back to farmers I think we are very safe to say that the bar set by the farmer-run CWB sure beats the 40% farmers are now getting.

So irony rules the day in Ottawa.  We have a Federal Government who claimed farmers working together offended their dogma about markets and killed the Wheat Board.

Yet now they have gone to a command and control dictat ordering what amounts to a not quite innocent third party (it really hurts to say that of the rail ways) to fix a problem created by the Federal Government allowing the grain companies to do what they want to farmers.

In the end this order from Ottawa will not put an extra dime into farmers’ pockets.  That ship, as they say, has sailed until we get the single desk back.


  1. Bernie von Tettenborn

    Until we get a quota system of some kind back there will always be some who won’t be able to sell their production, I saure wonder where Ritz gets his idea of a majority of farmers from ,without a referendum?

  2. Bobby Jones

    Ritz has failed us terribly. The backlog should have been addressed along time ago, It is easy for the railroads to say they have x number of unloads when they are hauling from western Alberta and eastern Manitoba and Saskatchewan is being left out. When the Wheat Board controlled the cars it was a much fairer system and the right grain was being coordinated and hauled to the terminals.

  3. brent korneychuk

    How does a fine from the railways paid to the federal government help farmers?

  4. Wow the railways have been legislated to levels they were performing in the early 1980’s! In the last crop week of 1983-1984 there were over 12,672 cars unloaded. De-regulation has not given farmers any benefits in transportation efficiencies in the past 30 years? Just wait the Railways will be pushing to have Revenue Cap removed so they can move grain more EFFICIENTLY!

    • wendy Manson

      Thanks Kyle! Nettie and I were looking for numbers like that. I will pass it on. Where could we get some other years?