Who killed Churchill?

by on Sep 17, 2016 in Articles and Letters | Comments Off on Who killed Churchill?

by Eric Sagan

(September 17, 2016) Recently Omnitrax the owner of the Port of Churchill said they were closing the port and no grain shipments would be occurring for 2016. How could we have come to this where a private company can dictate to farmers and essentially to the whole Nation that a port outlet would be closed to export because of their financial need? Does anyone consider the benefits that farmers receive when shipping through the Port of Churchill? Who is looking out for their needs and their financial considerations? How about the financial needs of all the communities and businesses serviced by that northern rail line and port?

The media has overlooked who caused this problem. It was the Harper government and Gerry Ritz, Former Minister of Agriculture, that caused this problem by destroying the farmer elected Canadian Wheat Board (CWB). The CWB had a mandate to maximize revenue to farmers which is why the CWB used the Port of Churchill to ship farmers’ grain to some of our customers. Most years the CWB shipped 90% of the grain that went out of Churchill because it made more money for farmers.

With the death of the CWB the Port of Churchill now dies also. The reasoning is quite simple. Since none of the grain company oligarchs own the port terminal they would rather use one of their own terminals where they can make money for themselves. Ritz and his Western Canadian Wheat Growers shills knew the Port would die so they bribed the grain companies with a $9/tonne incentive to ship grain through Churchill as a short term cover-up after they killed the CWB in 2011.

With the incentive ending soon and Ritz out of power, the grain companies and specifically Omnitrax decided to pull the pin on the port. With the big grain companies refusing to use Churchill, one can’t necessary blame Omnitrax for shutting the Port down due to the finances involved. But what about everyone else’s finances? How does this fit with our National Agricultural and Transportation Policy. Oh yeah we don’t have one! What about our national sovereignty of the North? Now we don’t even control our only northern deep water port and soon we won’t even have one!

If one looks who to blame for this wreck, one can clearly target the Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba Tory governments, the Western Canadian Wheat Growers, SARM, The Hudson Bay Route Association, and APAS for not opposing the Harper government in its destruction of the CWB. Everyone was told of the lost economic opportunities if this happened, and the loss of the Port of Churchill is only one of them.

As the Saskatchewan Minister of Agriculture “eloquently” said maybe Churchill is a lost cause. I would say the only lost cause is our farm leaders!



CWB testimony found surprising

by on Aug 2, 2016 in Articles and Letters | Comments Off on CWB testimony found surprising

Yorkton This Week

by:  Kyle Korneychuk, Former CWB Director

(August 2, 2016) I was surprised reading the recent transcripts of the testimony of Mr. Greg Meredith, AAFC Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic Policy Branch, when he was providing testimony to the House of Commons Finance Committee about the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB).  He described a CWB I did not recognize.

As a former member of the Board of Directors of the CWB and a member of the Finance Committee I saw the CWB’s operations from the inside. That is why I have to question Meredith’s many statements to the Finance Committee.

His claim the “government didn’t own the Wheat Board and so didn’t sell any assets” is flawed logic I don’t accept and neither did the Federal Courts.   The courts ruled that although farmers paid for all assets and operations of the CWB  the government did not have to compensate farmers, so the government could do what it pleased when it disposed of the CWB and its assets. Is Meredith saying the courts were wrong? How does Meredith claim on the one hand that the government did not own the CWB but on the other hand justify giving it away to the Government of Saudi Arabia and Bunge Corporation in return for a promise?

If, as he claims the government did not own the CWB and farmers apparently did not own what they paid for over 75 years, what owner did his department take it from, and how did the government have the authority to give it away?

Meredith’s apparent confusion continues when he states, “the hopper cars likewise had debts secured against them, even though they were donated by the Government of Canada.” Depending on how you look at it, that statement is either misleading or completely false. First of all, the Government of Canada never donated any hopper cars to the CWB. Farmers bought and paid for the several thousand rail hopper cars which ran under the Canadian Wheat Board logo. So he can’t mean those CWB cars given his remarks.

Mr. Meredith also seems to contend that the CWB had no financial liquidity. Yet as a Board member I remember a study done by one of the big three accounting firms indicating there was over $400 million in assets and the CWB’s audited statements showed that the net liabilities of the CWB were trivial. That is not counting any value being placed on the single desk, transportation coordination, or branding of Canadian wheat. So why does Mr. Meredith seem to think the money is gone?

As I remember, Mr. Meredith was on the Public Relations/Communications team of Agriculture Minister Ritz, and was good at making complex issues appear simple even when they were not. The question is why would the Liberals keep him on? What was the election for? Why would the Finance Committee allow these statements to be made and go unchallenged? Doesn’t it reflect badly on their level of expertise when they let such non-truths go unquestioned? If your Assistant Deputy Minister in charge of Strategic Policy doesn’t know what he is talking about, isn’t it time for a new Deputy Minister?

Sunny days may be here for some Canadians but not for Western Canadian farmers who were bilked out of billions of dollars by having their assets confiscated and who expect diligence, honesty, and transparency from their new government!

Robert Roy Atkinson

by on May 20, 2016 in Articles and Letters | Comments Off on Robert Roy Atkinson

Robert Roy Atkinson (CM)
Passed away on May 17, 2016, surrounded with the love of his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Roy was a character who loved his family and all things Irish. He was the oldest of ten born on February 17, 1924, to Bob and Elsie Atkinson on the farm his grandfather and grandmother homesteaded in 1906 located north of Springwater, Saskatchewan. As a young man, Roy tried his hand at selling deep freezes, cutting and selling Christmas trees out on the coast but had his eye on a dark haired beauty from Duperow, Saskatchewan. She wasn’t anyone’s fool; he had to spin some real Irish magic to turn her head. Luckily for us on November 17, 1951, Roy married Bette Aylward, and they began their 52-year life farming, raising kids and working for social and economic change.

Together they raised five children and in his view there wasn’t a dud amongst us (which is as close to a compliment as one could get with this character). Roy loved his kids but adored his grandchildren and great- grandchildren. His tough exterior turned soft when it came to them and he enjoyed a unique relationship with each and every one of them. His wife Bette, parents Bob and Elsie Atkinson and his sisters Margaret, Louise and Doris and brothers Blair and David, predeceased Roy. He leaves a legacy of activism, love, determination (as in you never give up, ever!), integrity, ethics and hard work for his children: Pat (Alfons J.P.), Leta, Bob (Bev) Wendy (Todd), Mike (Kristin) and his grandchildren Gavin (Natalka) Tyne (Nicole) Bailen (Roxanne) Shane (Michelle) Jamieson (Krystalyne) Ryan (Morgan) Colton (Liz), Kate (Mike) and Danny along with his great-grandchildren Bentley, Stella, Brooklyn, Allie, CallieAnne, Boston and Max. Roy also leaves behind his sisters Lavonne, Elsie, Roberta, and Thora, as well as many nieces, nephews, great-nieces and nephews and cousins.

Whether the 8th Street Co-op cafeteria, where he would hold court, a town hall meeting or the family living room, Roy was an outstanding orator and has many high school medals to prove it. As an activist farmer, he devoted his life to lobbying governments and providing leadership to Canadian farmers. He was President of the Saskatchewan Farm Union from 1962 until 1969 when he became the president of the National Farmers Union, a position he held until 1978. He served on the Economic Council of Canada and was a member of the Canadian Council for Rural Development. He was a board member of Federated Cooperatives Limited and was a “grassroots general” in Saskatchewan’s fight for universal medicare serving on the Community Health Services Association formed in opposition to the 1962 doctors strike.

From 1965 to 1994 Roy was a member of the Canadian Wheat Board Advisory Committee and served as chair from 1980 until 1985. He was an elected delegate to the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool. And from 1998 he was co-chair of the Prairie Alliance for the Future, a western Canadian organization dedicated to creating a regional grain collection and transportation system. Roy was also active in forming the Landis Producer Coop after the elevator system in Saskatchewan was decimated.

Roy was an activist spokesperson on behalf of farmers and wasn’t afraid to use public demonstrations for the causes and public policy he was advancing. His only objective was to improve farmer economics and ensure the survival of the family farm.

In recognition of his life’s work, he was inducted into the Saskatchewan Agricultural Hall of Fame and invested with Canada’s highest honour the Order of Canada. His family, comrades and protégés were inspired by Roy’s unwavering sense of compassion, fairness, conviction and curiosity. There is no doubt that he will influence his family for generations to come.

On behalf of the Atkinson/Aylward clan, we want to thank the outstanding health providers our province has. In particular, we want to thank Roy’s doctor at the Saskatoon Community Clinic, Dr. Margaret McMahon, who looked after his healthcare needs with her quiet but fierce Irish determination and the lab technicians who visited him at Luther Tower. We also want to thank Darryl Martin at Luther Towers who supported Roy’s determination to live an independent and dignified life. For the health team on ward 5300 at RUH and Dr. Ann Dzus, we say thank you for your dedication to your work.As Roy would say “We sure have the best there is providing care in our publicly funded and administered health system.”

A Memorial Reception in Celebration of Roy’s life will take place on May 27, 2016, at the Battleford Room at the Bessborough Hotel at 3 p.m. Please wear what you like and blue jeans and polo shirts would suit Roy just fine. Honorary Pallbearers will be the staff and “Senators” from the 8th Street Coop Cafeteria. Arrangements have been entrusted to Saskatoon Funeral Home. As Roy would say “In solidarity and shop Coop even if Federated Coop makes you mad.” Condolences may be left at www.saskatoonfuneralhome.com Arrangements are entrusted to the SASKATOON FUNERAL HOME, 306-244-5577.

1973 Wheat

by on Feb 5, 2016 in Articles and Letters | Comments Off on 1973 Wheat

by: Darrell Stokes

(Hussar, AB)  In 1973 I received over $6 for a bushel of #1 wheat. That was when a brand new Massey combine sold for about $30,000. Expenses like fertilizer, fuel, chemical, insurance, overhead and so on, were much less in 1973 of course, so a likely profit on that bushel would have been around $4.

NEWS FLASH: 43 years later farmers are still receiving $6 for that bushel of wheat. The profit would be closer to $2 per bushel.

Somehow, farmers have been led to believe that $6 – $8 is a good price for 60 pounds of #1 Wheat, and we should be thankful to the open market for its munificence. Let’s not forget that $6 in 1973, when adjusted for inflation, is equivalent to over $30 in 2016.

Now maybe the world wheat market would collapse if Canadian farmers were paid what their product was actually worth. My expectation is not $30 for my bushel of wheat, however, it seems to me it should be somewhat closer to its value.

I wonder what the grain industry actually gets for my $6 bushel of wheat when they put it on a boat at the West Coast. They won’t tell us. How much more than $6 do you think it might be?

Sask. Wheat, Barley, and Pulse Commission Elections 2015

by on Nov 11, 2015 in Articles and Letters | Comments Off on Sask. Wheat, Barley, and Pulse Commission Elections 2015

(November 10, 2015) CWBA has reviewed all the candidates for the current Saskatchewan commodity commission elections. You will or should have received mail in ballots for the Sask. Wheat Development Commission, the Sask. Barley Development Commission and the Sask. Pulse Commission* if you have paid those levies.

We are asking farmers to support the following candidates mainly because they support public plant breeding and the principle that farmers must own what they have paid to develop. They also support the right of farmers to save and store their seed.

In short, the following candidates believe we should own what we pay for, not the private seed companies that want to use our check-off money to improve their profits.

Most farmers see this every spring when they compare the cost of buying certified canola seed owned by the agro-chemical-seed companies with the cost of buying certified wheat, barley, and pulse seed developed by public plant breeding and owned by farmers. We pay for it – we should own it.

Sask Wheat Development Commission
Dan Danielson (incumbent)  bio
Laura Reiter (incumbent) bio
Bill Rosher (incumbent) bio

Sask Barley Development Commission
Gilbert Ferre bio
Cam Goff (incumbent) bio
Leo Howse bio

Saskatchewan Pulse Growers*
Ernie Hall
Robert Horne bio

* Electronic vote via internet (for Sask Pulse only) or ask for mail in ballot right away as ballots are out.

Help us keep control of the grain we raise. Call your neighbors and others you know and ask them to vote for the above candidates.
Thank you,

Public Plant Breeding wins the yield contest

 1981/82 to 1999/00:

• Average spring wheat yield increase = 1.25% per year.
• Average canola yield increase           = 0.92% per year.

 2000/01 to 2012/13:

• Average spring wheat yield increase = 2.94% per year.
• Average canola yield increase           = 2.62% per year.

Plant breeding investment required to keep the current rate of yield increase

Wheat: $25 Million per year (Public plant breeding)
Canola: $80 Million per year (Private company plant breeding)

Public Plant Breeding costs less for better results

than private canola breeding

 From:  Dr. R. Graf,“Crop Yield and Production Trends in Western Canada” – March, 2013
read more about public plant breeding here:  Public Plant Breeding


Roehle inducted into Agricultural Hall of Fame

by on Oct 29, 2015 in Articles and Letters | Comments Off on Roehle inducted into Agricultural Hall of Fame

by Ken Larsen.

(October 29, 2015) I missed paying tribute to a colleague and friend, Bob Roehle, when he was inducted into the Manitoba Agricultural Hall of Fame this summer.

Many will know Bob as the former Vice President of Communications at the Canadian Wheat Board. For a detailed listing of Bob’s extensive involvement with agriculture I would point readers to the following article in the Manitoba Cooperator.Roehle

Many of my colleagues have “Bob stories” which convey the human touch Bob is so good at. So in honour of our friend, I would like to share one of mine: Like many farmers I initially only knew of Bob through his media appearances explaining Wheat Board issues. Like too many farmers of my generation I neglected ag politics because I thought nobody could be so almighty stupid as to question the value of farmer-owned grain handling cooperatives, much less the very existence of the single-desk Canadian Wheat Board.

Finally in about 1994 the din of utterly moronic anti-Wheat Board talk reached even my ears. So I phoned the CWB in Winnipeg and asked why the CWB was letting the utter nonsense being peddled by the Government of Alberta and its well funded astro-turf groups like the Western Canadian Wheat and Barley Growers Associations stand unchallenged.

The very polite secretary said “let me connect you with Bob Roehle, our communications person” – a connection I’m proud to say continues to this day.

At that time the Alberta Government had just responded to the anti-Wheat Board nonsense it had financed directly and through politically subservient check-off groups by announcing with much fanfare that it would hold a plebiscite among farmers to see if they still wanted a Wheat Board. I was very concerned, as were many other grain farmers, that a lynching was about to take place.

After some discussion with Bob, I suggested that the least I could do was write a few letters to the papers suggesting most of the anti-CWB propaganda was just that. I also asked if he would mind taking a look at what I was saying to make sure I had not entirely forgotten my relevant university courses. During that hectic period many farmers and friends across Alberta came out of the woodwork to support the CWB and we formed an ad hoc group of several hundred Alberta grain farmers to counter this nonsense and ultimately a majority of Alberta producers supported the CWB single desk in that Alberta run plebiscite.

During this time, aside from his patience and civility one of the things that most impressed me was Bob’s dedication.

I would often raise very early, draft a letter, and send it off via the then new-fangled technology of email at five or six in the morning. Bob would inevitably get an answer back to me before I had brewed my morning coffee. Then it would be off to the field for me until later that evening when I would then send off another question or comment to Bob around 10:30 or 11:00 at night. Inevitably Bob would have a reply back in my inbox a few minutes later. He showed a dedication to the welfare of farmers and a commitment to the CWB which I came to learn was typical of most of the staff at the CWB. Like those of us who raise food for a hungry world, people like Bob saw the CWB as much as a vocation as a job or career. Bob was my first brush with the many people who worked for the CWB who exemplified and actually lived the concept of “right livelihood.”

So congratulations to Bob Roehle for a well-deserved recognition of his pivotal and historic contribution to Canadian agriculture, and an apology for the lateness of this tribute.

Marketing mess

by on Sep 11, 2015 in Articles and Letters | Comments Off on Marketing mess

Western Producer
Bernard Von Tettenborn;
Round Hill, Alta

The prairie wheat marketing system is a mess that Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative government created.

Harper, while he was head of the National Citizens Coalition, stated that the old Canadian Wheat Board had to go.  The multinationals must have reached him, as he never raised a kernel of wheat and tried to transport it or sell it.

There are several points to look at in his handling of the former CWB.

The dismantling of the CWB without a plan for something to take over the function that the former CWB performed. A) a strong entity to work with the railroad companies; B) a system whereby the right grade of wheat was ordered to be hauled to match sales; C) a fair system where the money from sales went back to the farmers.

Harper thought the free market would look after the sales of crops, but he forgot the greed ethic of free marketers — they all wanted to get their own grain to market and we saw the result of that in 2013-14, and again in 2014-15, whereby the bases were so high that it resulted in the biggest transfer of wealth from the Prairies to the multinationals so far.

The original date for shutting down the CWB was supposed to be 2017. What happened? (Nov 10, 2014 WP). The new CWB’s Dayna Spiring stated that CWB isn’t for sale, they are just looking for a partner to take the government’s place, but they are giving it away for a promise that the new owners will invest $250 million in new facilities. Will it happen? And how come so little? The former CWB was worth a lot more than that.

They also have been giving farmers a $500 share for every tonne of wheat delivered, but the farm sector is to have only 49 percent of the equity and shares. That gives them no say.

We have been told that the new owners will decided down the road what to do with the farmer equity. It looks like the government is trying to get another large lump of money from the prairie agriculture sector.

It looks like Harper called the election so early so that the other parties couldn’t get contributions after the dropping of the writ, whereas the Conservative party had been able to call in a lot of money from the multinationals in recognition for what the government had done for them.

A letter was published (Aug. 13, 2015 WP) with a quote that the loss to the prairie economy from wheat sales in 2013-14 was $3 billion and the 2014-15 loss was more than $2 billion. This is due to the bungling of the free marketers. The system needs regulation.

Harper is trying to get re-elected by creating an atmosphere of fear of what would happen if any other party came to power. For what he and agriculture minister Gerry Ritz have done for the prairie economy, the prairie agricultural sector should vote A.B.C.

Harper Government Trashes Another Federal Science Library

by on Aug 21, 2015 in Articles and Letters | Comments Off on Harper Government Trashes Another Federal Science Library


Lethbridge Ag Library Dumpster

From the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada

OTTAWA, August 21, 2015 – Canadians hoping the Harper government’s “war on science” is at last ended – or at least put on hold for the period of the federal election campaign – will be saddened to learn of the destruction this week of yet another federal science library, this time at the Agriculture and Agri-Food Lethbridge Research Centre in Alberta.

The library provided about 48 Agriculture Canada scientists, 85 technicians, and numerous visiting workers and students access to decades of valuable, specialized agricultural and scientific information.

While some items appear to have been shipped to government facilities in Ottawa, on Monday most of the library’s contents had been either discarded in a dumpster outside the building or sent to recycling. The loss will make access to relevant research more difficult for scientists working in areas as varied as the study of beef, soil chemistry and ecology, rangeland, wheat, canola, potatoes, beans, insect pests, and greenhouse gases.

The elimination of the Lethbridge Research Centre’s library brings to 16 the number of federal science libraries lost due to cuts, closures and consolidations since 2012, when the Harper government introduced sweeping cuts to federal jobs, programs and services.

“The Harper government continues to target government science at every turn,” says Debi Daviau, President of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, which represents approximately 15,000 federal scientists. “It is time Canadians understood the cumulative loss to federal science—and this week to agricultural science, in particular—of a government whose priorities are clearly out of step with both public scientists and the public interest.”


We are becoming strangers in our own land

by on Apr 17, 2015 in Articles and Letters | 4 comments

Takeover of Canadian Wheat Board – We are becoming strangers in our own land

By Peter Ewart
Thursday, April 16, 2015 @ 3:55 AM
250 News

Once there was a Canadian Wheat Board that was truly Canadian-owned and based, and whose job was to market the grain of Canadian farmers, especially in the West.

Since coming to power in 2006, the Harper government has waged an all-out war on the Wheat Board as a public enterprise, purging its farmer directors and replacing them with government appointees, overturning legislation in place for decades, refusing to recognize the vote of its farmer members, and putting the organization on the road to complete privatization.

Well, the Harper government has finally got its way.  The announcement has been made.  As of July 2015, the Canadian Wheat Board will now be majority owned by a giant privately-owned company, G3 Global Grain Group.

But there is a huge irony here.  While the Harper government is rabidly hostile to the concept of state-owned enterprises in Canada, it is allowing a foreign state-owned company to be a major partner in taking over the Canadian Wheat Board.

And just who might own that state-owned company?  None other than the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  Indeed, the G3 Global Grain Group is a partnership between SALIC Canada Limited, which is 100% owned by the Saudi government, and Bunge Canada, which is a subsidiary of the global agri-business Bunge Limited.

The global agri-business companies have always had a problem with the Canadian Wheat Board.  They didn’t like all those farmers banding together in a common front.  Now they have finally triumphed – with huge help from the Harper government.

What chance will independent Canadian farmers have now to get a fair price when they are under the thumb of a giant company backed by the oil-rich Saudi government and other global agri-business oligarchs?

This is just one more indication that we no longer have a national government.  Indeed, it is a government of the global oligarchs, by the global oligarchs and for the global oligarchs.

We need nation-building in Canada, not nation-looting.


Ritz locks farmers out, hands CWB keys to Bunge and Saudi king’s fund

by on Apr 15, 2015 in Articles and Letters | 1 comment

National Farmers Union News Release, April 15 , 2015

“Today Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz announced that G3, a joint venture owned by two foreign corporations, Bunge and the Saudi investment company SALIC, is the beneficiary of CWB privatization. With this, the Conservative government has accomplished the biggest transfer of wealth away from farmers in the history of Canada,” said Jan Slomp, National Farmers Union (NFU) President. “The CWB’s physical assets, its commercial relationships, and its good name have all been given away. The “buyers” of the CWB actually get to keep the $250 million pittance they are “paying” for it. Bunge’s 2014 sales totalled $58 billion and multi-billion dollar SALIC is a subsidiary of the Saudi sovereign wealth fund, PIF.”

“Where is the financial report or accountability? This is our money and taxpayer dollars,” said Ian Robson, NFU Board member from Manitoba. “The whole deal has been brokered in complete secrecy.”

The federal government has refused to release the CWB’s complete financial statements after dismantling the single desk, and has tabled only the non-financial portion of its annual report. It commissioned an audit of the CWB’s assets in the lead-up to privatization, and has refused to release the results. The new G3 entity is private and thus will not publish financial statements.

“Until August 1, 2012 farmers had full disclosure of the CWB’s financial position,” Robson continued. “The so-called marketing freedom and choice being offered today is a black box.”

Touted as an opportunity for farmers to own equity in the new company, a “Farmers Trust” will be set up to own 49.9% of the company. Individual farmers will be allocated $5 in equity per tonne of grain delivered. After seven years or when the reaches $250 million, G3 can buy it out. In effect, this is a sunset clause to terminate the farmers’ equity. The Trust will be managed by three appointed trustees, with one of them getting a Board seat. The farmers’ equity will not be shares in the company, but merely “units” in the trust fund. Farmers who participate will have zero control over this equity stake, nor will they have any say in how the company operates. The decision to terminate the Trust is entirely in G3’s hands.

“This $250 million “Farmer Trust” 49.9 percent equity gimmick is an insult,” said Doug Scott, NFU Board member from Alberta. “Since they destroyed the single desk, farmers have lost more than $7 billion dollars in less than 3 years. We had an elected Board of Directors at the CWB that managed the business in our interests and earned premium prices in the world market for all western grain farmers, year after year. Now, the Bunge-Saudi partnership plans to bribe us with our money just to get us to do business with them.”

“At least $170 million of public money was transferred to the CWB to promote its privatization, and Ritz claims – but will not provide evidence — that the total taxpayer investment was around $300 million,” noted Slomp. “The federal government has turned over all of this value, on top of the tangible and intangible assets of the single-desk CWB, to the complete control of Bunge, an American multinational grain dealer and SALIC, a subsidiary of the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund, while farmers and the Canadian public have been locked out of all decision-making. This is not responsible, accountable, or transparent. This is not acceptable in a democracy.”
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