Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association

September 08, 2011 18:01 ET

Wheat Growers Urge Federal Government to Ignore CWB Vote Result

SASKATOON, SASKATCHEWAN--(Marketwire - Sept. 8, 2011) - The Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association is calling on the federal government to disregard the results of the Canadian Wheat Board vote, regardless of the outcome, and to move forward quickly with legislation that provides grain marketing freedom to prairie farmers.

The results of the CWB vote will be announced tomorrow. The CWB boasts that ballots were sent to over 68,000 voters, even though Statistics Canada numbers suggest there are no more than 20,000 commercial grain farms in western Canada.

The large number of eligible voters shows that multiple ballots were sent to some farms, and/or a significant number of retired or hobby farmers were allowed to vote.

"The entire design of this vote was geared toward producing a result in favour of the monopoly," says Kevin Bender, President of the Wheat Growers. "The government should ignore the results and move full steam ahead with plans to give us our marketing freedom."

Throughout the campaign the Wheat Growers encouraged farmers to boycott the vote. We maintain that every farmer should be free to sell his grain to a buyer of his choice. Whether a farmer decides to market his grain on his own or in co-operation with others should not be subject to the preference of any other farmer.

"Our farm certainly didn't vote in this bogus exercise," says Cherilyn Nagel, Past President of the Wheat Growers. "No farmer should have the right to tell another farmer how to market their grain."

The Wheat Growers note the design of the CWB's vote was badly flawed, with some farms eligible to obtain several ballots while many bona fide farmers did not receive a ballot, or had to go through a cumbersome process to obtain one. Many farmers, on principle, refused to obtain or mail in a ballot.

The Wheat Growers also note that past CWB surveys have been rigged to under-represent the views of Alberta farmers, where support for marketing choice is highest. It is quite likely that this vote is also skewed, given that the CWB set the eligibility rules and controlled the initial voters list.

"We call on the federal government to disregard this illegitimate vote," says Bender. "My right to sell my grain should not be undermined by the CWB or the results of its phony plebiscite."


• According to Statistics Canada, there were 16,510 grain and oilseed farms in western Canada in 2009 with revenues of $250,000 or greater. $250,000 represents the typical revenue from a 1,000 acre grain farm. There were a total of 28,635 grain and oilseed farms with revenues of $100,000 or greater, typical revenue from a 400 acre farm.

• Given these numbers, the Wheat Growers conservatively estimate there are 20,000 commercial grain farms in western Canada, where farming is the main source of income.

• The number of ballots issued in the CWB vote is more than three times the number of commercial grain farms in western Canada. Consequently, the ballot box will be stuffed with ballots from many retired farmers and non-farmers.

• Farms that are incorporated were only eligible to receive one ballot, even though they may support several farm families. For example, this situation applies to WCWGA director Geoff Hewson, whose incorporated farm received only one ballot despite supporting three farm families.

• Some eligible farmers did not receive a ballot. WCWGA director Grant Dyck recently restructured his farm, but was legally entitled to receive six ballots. Although having no intention of voting, he applied to vote and was denied a ballot.

• Those eligible to vote in the CWB vote included "actual producers" and other producers, including landlords and mortgage holders. In July, the Wheat Growers asked the CWB to provide the breakdown of the number of ballots sent to actual producers versus other producers. The CWB has thus far refused to divulge this information.

• To illustrate the absurdity of the CWB vote, a landlord renting 4 quarters (note: one quarter equals 160 acres) on a crop-share basis to 4 different farmers would have received 4 ballots. An incorporated 10,000 acre farm receives one ballot.

• In its 2010 producer survey, the number of respondents from Alberta represented only 27% of the total, even though Alberta accounts for 38% of prairie wheat and barley production. It is suspected that this vote also badly under-represents Alberta producers, where support for marketing choice is the strongest. The CWB refused to provide the Wheat Growers with the provincial breakdown in this year's survey.

• Support for marketing choice is strongest among young farmers. In the CWB's 2011 survey, only 24% of farmers under age 45 support the monopoly on wheat compared to 57% support for farmers over age 65. By not confining voter eligibility to "actual producers", the CWB plebiscite ensures many retired farmers would have been eligible to vote.


Contact Information

  • Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association
    Kevin Bender
    (403) 350-4949

    Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association
    Cherilyn Nagel
    Past President
    (306) 354-7368