Friday, December 16, 2011
Canadian Wheat Board: Farmer elected members booted and replaced by government appointees
After passing legislation that would remove single desk selling from the Wheat Board the Conservative government has now replaced five farmer elected board members with their own appointees. These five immediately voted to discontinue the suit filed against the government. The former Wheat Board sued the government and had won on the grounds that the government was required by law according to the Wheat Board Act to hold a plebiscite among farmers first. NOTE: In single desk selling all wheat and barley in the western prairie provinces is marketed through the Wheat Board. This gives the board the power of a monopsony. The board was formed in the depression by farmers who believed they were at the mercy of large grain companies who bought their grain at prices that were too low.
The agricultural minister put a familiar spin on what happened. It is all about freedom of choice or marketing freedom. No doubt the large grain companies were cheering as well. Others cheering are the U.S. who filed over a dozen suits against the board claiming that the board gave prairie farmers an unfair advantage. Farmers in the room where agriculture minister Gerry Ritz was speaking apparently cheered his speech.
The Wheat Board itself had taken a plebiscite on whether farmers wanted to remove the single desk selling monopsony and a majority said they did not. The Conservative government in the last election campaign promised to remove those powers but also said it would hold a plebiscite of farmers. But it did not. It just threw out the elected farmer board and ignore a judgment of a court that their action was illegal. For more see this article.