Support dips for Canada Wheat Board monopoly: poll

Fri Jun 6, 2008 1:25pm EDT
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By Roberta Rampton

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - Fewer Western Canadian farmers support the Canadian Wheat Board's monopoly on wheat and barley sales than did a year ago, according to an annual poll released by the farmer-run agency on Friday.

For wheat, 57 percent of farmers said the CWB should keep its government-granted monopoly on sales to millers and export markets, while 39 percent said the market should be open.

Last year, 61 percent of farmers supported the monopoly, while 35 percent wanted it to end.

For barley, 52 percent of farmers said the market should open, with 40 percent wanting the CWB to retain its monopoly on sales to maltsters and export markets.

Farmers were split last year, with 48 percent supporting the barley monopoly and 46 percent wanting it to end.

"If you look at the 10-year average, the numbers haven't changed much," Larry Hill, chairman of the CWB's board, told Reuters.

Hill said recent increases in cash grain prices have caused some dissatisfaction with the CWB's pooled prices, which give farmers returns based on sales made through a whole year.

But a federal government's "gag order" has restricted the CWB from doing more to explain its prices, Hill said.   Continued...