Aussie Ian White to head Canadian Wheat Board

Wed Jan 30, 2008 5:15pm EST
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By Roberta Rampton

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - Ian White, a veteran of Australia's grain trade, will become the next head of the Canadian Wheat Board, one of the world's largest grain exporters, Canada's agriculture minister said on Wednesday.

White, an Australian and chief executive of Queensland Sugar Ltd, joins the agency at a time when government, industry and farmers are bitterly divided over whether the CWB should keep its marketing monopoly on sales of wheat and barley from Western Canada to millers, maltsters and export markets.

White, who spoke to reporters from Brisbane, Australia, said he does not have a position on the CWB's "single desk" and did not want to prejudge the debate.

"It's certainly not my mandate to end the single desk," White said.

"What I would want to be doing is understanding all the issues of value associated with it and try to help the wheat board ... come to the best conclusions about the best ways to keep value for the farmers," he said.

The farmer-controlled CWB, which had $3.5 billion in revenue for the year ended July 31, 2006, has a government-mandated monopoly .

The government tried to end the barley monopoly by regulation last year, but a Federal Court said it had overstepped its authority. An appeal will be heard February 26.

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said on Tuesday that he wants to introduce legislation in Parliament to end the CWB's barley monopoly.   Continued...