Minister Ritz misses the boat on transportation

by on Mar 31, 2014 in News Release | 1 comment

(Pelly, Sk., March 31, 2014)  Agriculture Minister Ritz should have attended the University of Saskatchewan Grain Summit organized by several prominent Saskatchewan agricultural and business economists observed Kyle Korneychuk, spokesperson for the CWBA, a prairie wide farm group.

“This was a golden opportunity for Ritz to see objective evidence about the chaos in western grain marketing and understand why this situation is the largest grain robbery by private grain companies in Canadian history,” Korneychuk said.

At the conference, eminent Agricultural Economist Richard Gray observed that the money missing from the western economy has not evaporated; the majority is flowing into the pockets of the grain companies through the basis they set.

“This confirms both the CWBA analysis and that of another conference presenter with perhaps the deepest experience in grain marketing, Ian McCreary, whose presentation showed that last week the grain companies were making excess profits in excess of $100 per metric tonne.  So it is safe to say that on grain contracted since mid October, the excess profits taken by the grain companies have ranged between $106 to over $170 per metric tonne.”

Korneychuk went on to say “the solid data farmers see every day is that we are now getting about 40% of the port price while the Wheat Board’s single-desk reliably, year after year, returned better than 90% of the port price for wheat to every wheat producer.”

“Quorum Corporation’s presentation confirmed this was not simply a ‘rail only’ problem.  Quorum has a reputation for producing objective research and the fact that rail shipments to Vancouver are only 2% lower than last year demonstrates the grain companies are simply using a small car shortfall as a screen for the obscene profits they are taking at the expense of farmers” said Korneychuk.

“Essentially all the presenters came to the conclusion that a regulatory authority to organize and direct both the railways and grain companies to optimize logistical efficiency was the only option” said Korneychuk who went on to note “one of the most solution-oriented presentations started from the acknowledgement that the single-desk Canadian Wheat Board had set the gold standard for managing the marketing of western Canada’s grain.”

“To my mind,” Korneychuk said, “this is another way of saying the system created by Ottawa  now allows two oligopolies, the railways and the private grain companies, to steal the value of farmers’ grain from them.”

“In light of the information presented to the Grain Summit, it is plain to me that Minister Ritz’s announcement about new legislation on transportation demonstrates he is living in a reality free zone.  If Ritz had jetted in from Ottawa a day earlier he could have served farmers better by coming to the Grain Summit and learning something beyond what his echo-chamber cheerleaders tell him”  Korneychuk concluded.

For further information:
Sources for CWBA News Release March 31 2014

News coverage

Grain companies profiting from marketing chaos

by on Mar 18, 2014 in News Release | 2 comments

(Pelly, Sk., March 18, 2014)  The Canadian Wheat Board Alliance (CWBA) has released a one page summary exposing how the private grain trade and the Harper government are misleading the public on who is responsible for the chaos at Canada’s grain ports.

“We followed the money” explained Kyle Korneychuk, spokesperson for the CWBA, a prairie wide farm group.  “Our calculations demonstrate the grain companies have taken over $1.6 billion in excess profits from wheat alone so far this crop year.”

Using data from Ottawa-created grain broker Canadian Wheat and Barley as well as posted tariff rates and grain export volumes to the end of January from the Canadian Grain Commission and the Canadian Transportation Agency, the CWBA fact sheet shows the private grain companies are using the system to make record profits at the expense of farmers.

“Mr. Harper’s threats to the railways are a smoke screen.  In fact the farmers’ share of the international price of grain has gone down from 84% under our single-desk Canadian Wheat Board to around 40% today.  It is the grain companies who have taken the lion’s share (about $170/metric tonne) of the international price at the west coast because the railways are constrained by legislation from taking much more than 12%,” Korneychuk observed.

Korneychuk noted “farmers are being hit by the grain companies twice.  First they are not getting their share of the international grain price and now that rumours are floating around that Canadian grain will start to move in greater volumes, the futures price is going down which will be another excuse to pay farmers less.”

Korneychuk heaped contempt on the announcement of fines for the railways saying the penalties of $100,000 a day “mean nothing” to a company like CP, whose CEO Hunter Harrison is the highest paid executive in Canada, earning $49.1 million in salary, stock options and bonuses in 2012.  “It’s chump change.  Harrison makes about $180,000 per day, so he could pay that $100,000 a day fine personally.”

Korneychuk concluded “Ottawa and others are attempting to make a fairly simple situation appear complicated.  When you follow the money it is painfully evident the Harper government is responsible for allowing the private grain trade to steal billions of dollars from farmers.  Farmers have a right to vote on the marketing system they must pay for and the time for that vote is now.”

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Public meeting in the heart of grain country sends message to Ottawa

by on Mar 10, 2014 in News Release | 1 comment

Public meeting in the heart of grain country sends message to Ottawa

(Raymore, Sk., March 10, 2014)  The Canadian Wheat Board Alliance hosted a large meeting of prairie grain farmers yesterday in Raymore, Saskatchewan.  By an almost unanimous vote the meeting passed a motion demanding the Federal Minister of Agriculture immediately conduct a vote on the restoration of the farmer-controlled single desk Wheat Board.

Long time Saskatchewan MP Ralph Goodale addressed the meeting and observed that the prairie price of all grains had declined by almost fifty percent and this amounted to an estimated loss of five billion dollars to the western farm economy.  One audience member angrily pointed out “we can’t afford another year of this!”

Stewart Wells, a former farmer-elected Director on the Wheat Board, explained to the meeting that with the single desk farmers got 85% of the port price for grain while the latest information shows that although international grain prices remain high, the grain companies and railways have reduced western farmers’ share to less than 40%.

Kyle Korneychuk, spokesperson for the CWBA, said “farmers have now seen in their bank accounts and grain bins how the Ritz system of grain marketing works.  I think that is the reason they gave such a firm message to Ottawa and the Opposition politicians attending the meeting that they want to exercise their right to vote on the marketing system they have to live with.”

Liberal Ralph Goodale, along with the NDP Official Opposition’s Agriculture and deputy Agriculture Critics Malcolm Allen and Ruth Ellen Brosseau got the message loud and clear during the meeting that farmers wanted a vote now.

“Local MP Andrew Scheer did not respond to our invitation, however both Goodale and Allen promised to take the message that farmers want a vote on the single desk back to Ottawa” said Korneychuk.  Allen observed that “more and more farmers are coming to see the private grain trade as the problem and the single desk as the solution and they want a vote now.  We will do our job and take that message back to Ottawa.”

Korneychuk went on to say “I was pleased to see Ms. Brosseau, who hails from rural Quebec, taking such an interest in western problems.  She clearly indicated to me that she understood that the single desk wheat Board was as important to western Canada as supply management is to Ontario and Quebec dairy farmers.”

Korneychuk concluded that the meeting was sending a clear message to Ottawa.  “If Ottawa can step in and seize the assets we built up in the farmer-controlled Wheat Board without compensation and issue orders to the railways with threats of draconian fines to back them up, as they did on Friday, there is no reason they cannot honour a democratic vote by farmers to re-instate their farmer-controlled single desk Wheat Board.  Farmers want a fair vote.”

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Raymore Resolution:

– Whereas the pre-2011 Canadian Wheat Board played a key role in coordinating grain shipments, and
– Whereas the single desk selling advantages of the pre-2011 CWB returned 85% of sales values to farmers’ pockets, as opposed to the 40 to 50% returned from the private trade at present,
Be it resolved that this meeting go on record asking the federal government to immediately conduct a vote of farmers regarding single desk selling of western wheat and barley.


Who We Are: The Alliance is a politically non-partisan organization focused specifically on the Canadian Wheat Board.  Members of the Alliance recognize the advantages the Board brought to producers through the single desk and price pooling, quality assurance through the Canadian Grain Commission (CGC), as well as the important role the CWB played as an advocate for farmers in transportation, producer cars, and on the world stage in trade disputes and negotiations.  The Alliance draws memberships throughout the west.

CWBA public meeting on marketing chaos

by on Mar 4, 2014 in News Release | Comments Off on CWBA public meeting on marketing chaos

CWB Alliance to hold public meeting updating farmers on marketing chaos

(Pelly, Sk., March 3, 2014)  The Canadian Wheat Board Alliance is inviting farmers to a public meeting, Sunday, March 9th, one PM, at the Elks Hall in Raymore, Saskatchewan.

There will be updates on the chaos in grain marketing, the new check-off organizations in Saskatchewan responsible for allocating farmers’ plant breeding research dollars, and a status report on the Class Action lawsuit now in process launched by the Friends of the Canadian Wheat Board.

“This is also an opportunity for farmers to hear from our Parliamentary representatives in Ottawa about the latest from the capital and to give producers an opportunity to send their own message back to Ottawa” said Kyle Korneychuk, spokesperson for the Canadian Wheat Board Alliance, a prairie wide organization representing grain farmers.

The meeting is free and open to the public.  For those wishing to stay for a beef supper after the meeting, please pre-register for the meal so we know how much food we need.  The cost is twenty dollars per plate.  Contact Wayne at 306-746-2180 to register.




TIME: 1:00 TO 4:00


Cam Goff, Chair          Saskatchewan Barley Development Commission
Bill Gehl, Chair           Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission
Stewart Wells              Friends of the Canadian Wheat Board class action update
Malcolm Allen             Member of Parliament: Agriculture Critic, New Democratic Party
Ruth Ellen Brosseau    Member of Parliament: Deputy Agriculture Critic, New Democratic Party
Ralph Goodale            Member of Parliament: Deputy Leader, Liberal Party of Canada

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For further information call:             Kyle Korneychuk at (306) 537-0950

Editor’s note:  revised March 4, 2014 with apologies to Ruth Ellen Brosseau Member of Parliament: Deputy Agriculture Critic, New Democratic Party who will be attending as well.

Ministers’ response to grain crisis pathetic

by on Feb 26, 2014 in News Release | 5 comments

Minister needs to put single desk option on the grain transportation table

(Pelly, Sk., February 26, 2014)  Farmers facing huge cuts in grain prices, long delivery delays, and cash flow problems as they prepare for spring seeding find the response of the Federal and Provincial Agriculture Ministers to the grain crisis pathetic, observed Kyle Korneychuk, spokesperson for the Canadian Wheat Board Alliance, a prairie wide organization representing grain farmers.

“Nobody, least of all farmers, are being fooled by Minister Ritz’s claim he is considering all options for fixing the multi-billion dollar wreck he created” said Korneychuk from his Pelly area wheat farm.  “It is time to give farmers back democratic control of their grain marketing, since the private trade has failed completely.  The best remedy is to reverse the destruction of the farmer-controlled Canadian Wheat Board (CWB)” Korneychuk observed.

Korneychuk dismissed the suggestion that the railways are now prepared to negotiate and sign level of service agreements with grain shippers.  “There is nothing new in this, the CWB did this all the time” Korneychuk said.  “However, the inland terminals don’t have the same negotiating power with the railways simply because their terminals are mostly captive to one or the other of the railways.  In any event, the terminals simply recover any extra costs imposed by the railways from the price they pay farmers.”  The government, Korneychuk said, has destroyed the only organization (the CWB) willing to take the railways to court over level of service.

Korneychuk also dismissed the suggestion by Saskatchewan Highways and Infrastructure Minister Don McMorris that farmers negotiate contracts with grain companies with reciprocal financial penalties.  “Most farmers already attempt to negotiate such contracts, but farmers will always be at a disadvantage when doing so” said Korneychuk.  “Farmers wanting to haul to that elevator in the future will think twice or three times before taking that company to court.”

“We have heard the song and dance about the railways, grain companies, and Ottawa working cooperatively to increase system efficiency before,” said Korneychuk “and it begs the question of who will benefit?  From past experience farmers know any efficiency gains go as profits to the bigger players in the system and that extra money will come out of farmers’ grain cheques.  The case in point is the fact Ottawa has refused to conduct a railway costing review, despite the railways already overcharging farmers by more than $175 million per year.”

“This shipping chaos means farmers have now missed record high prices and no amount of magical thinking about options to make this defective private system work will recover the billions of lost dollars and lost customers caused by the destruction of our single desk wheat board,” Korneychuk observed.

Korneychuk went on to say: “As long as farmers have no collective bargaining power they will be the donkeys the big companies ride for their profit.”

Korneychuk concluded by saying:  “Orderly marketing and the single desk Wheat Board addressed our disadvantages of distance, a constrained transportation system, and competition from other often heavily subsidized nations.  Without the single desk farmers are simply exploited by more powerful players who can download the costs of competition onto them, which is exactly what we are seeing with the chaos at port this year and the Minister is ignoring the only effective remedy which is to restore the Wheat Board he destroyed.”       

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Competition creates chaos at ports

by on Nov 26, 2013 in News Release | Comments Off on Competition creates chaos at ports


(Regina, November 26, 2013)  Farmers facing long delays to deliver their grain are not accepting Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz’s excuses for the chaos at Canada’s grain ports warned the Canadian Wheat Board Alliance, a prairie wide organization representing grain farmers.  “The Minister’s excuses are a diversion from the fact he destroyed the logistical efficiency created by the single desk Canadian Wheat Board,” explained Bill Gehl, the group’s chairperson.

“This shipping chaos is a good example of where competition wastes resources and makes sure farmers are not able to deliver a good harvest and get full value for it.  Farmers have now missed record high prices and no amount of magical thinking about competition will change the problem of chaotic grain transportation created by the loss of our single desk wheat board,” Gehl observed.

“The basic problem is without the farmer-controlled single desk Wheat Board nobody is coordinating grain sales, transportation logistics, and the efficient use of port terminal facilities” Gehl said.  “Port terminals are now competing with each other to use rail transport capacity just to generate grain handling revenue.  The result is they do not always have the right grade and type of grain in place so ships either cannot get a full load at one terminal, as they could when our Wheat Board arranged deliveries, or ships have to wait for more of the correct grade and type of grain to arrive.  The result is too many ships waiting much too long and that means farmers get less money.”

Gehl went on to say “a bumper crop is not unprecedented and Stats Canada’s November report indicates available grain supply is up only ten percent.  The Minister’s proposal to give more money to the railways by trashing the freight rate cap on grain transport when he concedes the railways have moved 20 percent more grain this year is another example of his ideological blindness to reality.

“A lack of orderly marketing also allows a flood of Canadian grain to depress the world market and congest the transportation system.  This means those farmers who get to deliver will get a lower price and those who miss being able to deliver get no price at all” Gehl said.

Gehl concluded by saying: “Orderly marketing and the single desk Wheat Board addressed our disadvantages of distance, a constrained transportation system, and competition from other often heavily subsidized nations.  This provided benefits to everyone in the Canadian grain system.  Without the single desk farmers are simply exploited by more powerful players who can download the costs of competition onto them, which is exactly what we are seeing with the chaos at port this year and the Minister’s suggestion that farmers should pay even more to support this deeply flawed private system.”

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One year after CWB

by on Aug 1, 2013 in News Release | Comments Off on One year after CWB


One year after CWB, private market fails farmers

(Regina, August 1, 2013)  “A year after the end of the single desk Canadian Wheat Board it is clear western farmers are no longer receiving the full value for their grain.  It is also clear most of the missing value is being taken by the private grain trade,” Bill Gehl, chairperson of the Canadian Wheat Board Alliance remarked on the one year anniversary of the loss of the Board.

“The 2012-2013 crop year is very much like the past 2010-2011 crop year where corn is in short supply and feed grain prices have risen.  The big difference is that when farmers used their single desk Canadian Wheat Board we got a $2.78 per bushel premium for high protein wheat (between 11.5% and 15.5%).  Today those premiums are largely missing in action” Gehl pointed out.

Gehl also noted another worrying change in Canada’s grain industry.  “Our major customers, including the Chinese and Japanese food agencies are now on record as complaining the private trade is not providing the same level of quality and customer care that our farmer-controlled Wheat Board did.”

“Ending the single desk threw away our international market niche of supplying the highest quality wheat and durum to the richest markets on the planet.  With the almost complete loss of protein premiums, western farmers are receiving what every other farmer gets from the lower end of the global grain market.”

“The private trade now takes ownership of our grain at the inland elevator and is free to take any higher protein premiums for their own profit while farmers are seeing higher freight and handling costs deducted for getting grain to customers.  It is no surprise we have seen a gold rush of takeovers and consolidation in the private grain handling and marketing sector to take advantage of farmers’ loss of market power.  The essential disappearance of protein premiums to farmers over the past year speaks for itself” Gehl said.

While prices this year have been better than expected Gehl is concerned these prices are masking the true reality that farmers face.  “Farmers who think this year’s apparently higher grain prices are the result of ending the Wheat Board are living in a fool’s paradise.  Grain prices are generally higher because the United States has suffered the worst drought and production failure since the 1930s.  When production reverts to normal, western farmers will find themselves facing a new and harsh reality” Gehl concluded.

Producer cars withering

by on Jul 16, 2013 in News Release | Comments Off on Producer cars withering

Producer cars withering – farm group calls for open access to terminal elevators

(Regina, July 16, 2013) Recent numbers obtained by the Canadian Wheat Board Alliance (CWBA) show that producer car shipments are down by almost 40% from last year.*  “This means farmers have lost at least five million dollars ” noted Bill Gehl, chairperson of the CWBA.

“Clearly the private sector is exercising its control over port facilities to undermine both Ritz’s crippled grain company that was cobbled together from the Wheat Board and the access farmers once had to port facilities and that is why we are calling for new regulations to change this” said Gehl.

“Many prairie farmers and their communities have made substantial investments in producer car loading facilities including short line railways and have benefited from this infrastructure.  Now we see the economic base of those operations withering with the end of the single desk Canadian Wheat Board.”

Producer car shipping facilities represent western farmers’ solution to the loss of cooperative grain elevators to private interests.  “When the Harper government introduced legislation eliminating the single desk Canadian Wheat Board Agriculture Minister Ritz poured scorn on the concern that without the access to port terminals provided by the single desk Wheat Board, producer cars would be at risk.  These numbers show Minister Ritz was wrong” concluded Gehl.

* Producer cars to:
July 10, 2013:    8,487
July 10, 2012:  13,038

Source:  Canadian Grain Commission

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Preserve the CWB library and archives

by on Mar 18, 2013 in News Release | Comments Off on Preserve the CWB library and archives

(Regina, March 18, 2013) The Canadian Wheat Board Alliance (CWBA) has called on Library and Archives Canada to use its legal authority to catalogue and archive the library holdings, documents, and other artifacts of the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) contained in its downtown Winnipeg office building and its offices in Tokyo, Japan, Beijing, China, Vancouver, and Regina.

Bill Gehl, a Regina area wheat and durum producer and chairperson of the CWBA said “we have reports that in spite of a preliminary assessment by Library and Archives Canada substantial portions of the CWB’s library and archives have already been picked over or put in the trash including very valuable market analysis information, and we fear that documents, customer gifts, and other antiquities relevant to the Friends of the CWB class action law suit are being lost.”  Gehl went on to say “this is completely unacceptable and we have asked Library and Archives to redouble their work to document and preserve the remaining documentary heritage of our Wheat Board for Canadians.”

Referring to ongoing legal action Gehl said “we fully support the recently filed Friends of the Canadian Wheat Board class action law suit to recover the value of our Wheat Board which was seized and nationalized without compensation by the Harper Conservatives.”

Gehl concluded “the Library and Archives of Canada Act gives Library and Archives Canada both the legal responsibility and authority to immediately take possession of the documents and other archival material of our farmer owned Wheat Board and we expect them to make a priority of doing so in spite of the fact their budget has been substantially reduced by the Harper Conservatives as a part of their project to cripple the Canadian state.”

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Budget takes quality control of our daily bread back to 1900

by on Oct 22, 2012 in News Release | Comments Off on Budget takes quality control of our daily bread back to 1900

(Regina, October 22, 2012) Changes to the Canada Grain Act introduced in last week’s omnibus budget legislation repeat the same mistake that gave us e-coli contaminated beef charged Bill Gehl, a durum and wheat farmer near Regina and the chairperson of the western farm group The Canadian Wheat Board Alliance.

“The suggested changes to the Canada Grain Act take quality control of our daily bread back to 1900 when we had rats in the grain.  Apparently Finance Minister Flaherty liked the consequences of Minister Ritz’s gutting of inspection at cattle slaughter plants so much that he wants to implement the same system in the grain industry,”  Gehl said.

In the new budget the government proposes to remove mandatory inward inspection at grain terminals.  This means contaminated shipments may not be caught until they arrive at a customer’s unloading facility, greatly increasing the cost of mistakes and the risk of damaging our reputation for pure grain.

“One would have thought the fiasco at XL Beef which is the direct result of a similar removal of Federal Inspection would have been a red flag to the Minister not to tamper with the Canada Grain Act and terminal inspection” observed Gehl “but it does reflect the ongoing undermining of our grain system by this administration, including removing Kernel Visual Distinguishability (KVD) standards, major cuts to plant breeding programs, loss of PFRA, and of course the theft of farmers’ marketing agency the Canadian Wheat Board.”

Other protections for farmers in the Canada Grain Act will also be eliminated in favour of private sector corporations.  For example the requirement for grain buyers to be bonded to cover their obligations to farmers for grain purchases will be replaced with an insurance scheme which will cost farmers more and give an unfair advantage to already established companies with deep pockets.

“Undermining the Canada Grain Act, as this budget proposes, threatens food safety and quality for the people we feed at home and around the world,” concluded Gehl.