Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

October 19, 2006 13:37 ET

AAFC: Supporting Supply Management While Providing Marketing Choice in Grain

By Chuck Strahl, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food And Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Oct. 19, 2006) - Canada's New Government campaigned on the promise that Western wheat and barley producers will be given the same opportunity to make marketing choices that other Canadian producers have by being given the right to voluntary participation in the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB).

In my time as Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister responsible for the CWB, I have had the opportunity to speak with farmers, their families and agricultural groups from across the country about this important issue.

This is a good time to consider new marketing options for grain producers. Recent surveys - even those commissioned by the CWB - indicate that producers are supportive of having the opportunity to make their own marketing choices. I have spoken with farmers on both sides of the debate surrounding a voluntary wheat board and I have met with the CWB on this question.

We have also created a task force to look at issues associated with implementing marketing choice. Unfortunately, the CWB declined to participate. The task force will report back to me by the end of October and its report will be made public.

Suggestions by the Bloc Québecois that Canada's New Government is not being open and transparent or that change to western grains marketing could affect the supply management system are both untrue and complete nonsense. In fact, last year our caucus supported a House of Commons motion in defense of supply management, we campaigned on that support, we defended it during WTO negotiations in Geneva, and Canada's New Government will continue to support supply management.

There are clear differences between supply management and the single desk authority of the CWB. The CWB was created by an Act of Parliament that forced Western Canadian farmers - and only Western Canadian farmers - to sell their wheat and barley through that entity. Yet wheat farmers in Ontario are free to market their wheat in the manner they choose.

By contrast, supply management is a national system that was set up for elected provincial marketing boards to participate in.

Unlike supply management, the single-desk monopoly system of the CWB is also far from being universally accepted. For years, Western Canadian wheat and barley producers have told us they want to be able to make their own business decisions. A majority of them have said that includes alternatives to the CWB. Once again, this is not the case with supply management, where the overwhelming majority of participants are extremely satisfied with the way the system works.

Supply management and our commitment to giving Western grain farmers marketing choice are not linked. This New Government has and will continue to strongly support Canada's supply management system. Supply management continues to be a successful choice for Canada's dairy, poultry and egg producers, and we are proud to continue to work with them to strengthen the industry. However, Western Canadian wheat and barley producers need a change - the change to marketing choice.

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