(Ottawa, Ontario, March 8, 2016) A delegation of prairie grain farmers travelled to Ottawa this week to warn MPs and Cabinet Ministers about the negative impacts western farmers are facing because of structural changes created in western Canada by the Harper government. Ken Sigurdson, a Swan River, Mb. grain farmer and spokesperson for the non-partisan Canadian Wheat Board Alliance explained “a recent analysis by agricultural economist Dr. Richard Gray of the University of Saskatchewan found that in the last two years the private elevator companies have taken $6.5 billion in excess profits from prairie farmers. This represents fully half the annual value of the wheat and barley crop in Western Canada. These losses will continue compounding the negative effects, including the loss of quality control and grain handling logistics, already felt in the grain industry as a result of changes made by the Harper government.”
Andrew Dennis, a Brookdale, Mb grain producer, added that this hemorrhage of cash from the west is unsustainable and the rise in farm debt to 90 billion dollars is just one of many indicators of trouble on the horizon. “Former customers of the Wheat Board are now complaining about unreliable supply and lack of quality assurance. Ending the single-desk has put Canada’s reputation for high quality grain in jeopardy.”
“There really are no mitigative measures possible to fix this problem of lost farm income,” observed Sigurdson. “A single-desk marketing agency is the only cost-efficient way to address all of these problems with no long-term costs to Ottawa. Our right to single-desk marketing did not die with the destruction of the Canadian Wheat Board. Putting in place a process for farmers to establish a single-desk marketing organization for western wheat and barley would simply be the same regulation of trade that all other countries, even signatories to trade agreements like NAFTA, regularly create and renew for their producers.”
Single-desk marketing agencies give farmers the commercial muscle to provide quality assurances to customers and for farmers to receive the full value of their product.
Sigurdson concluded “the single-desk was an important component of my farm which brought it stability and profitability. I want my son have the same benefits of single-desk marketing that are used by US farmers to market almonds and other crops, just like our own Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers and other organizations around the world make use of.”