Government to end wheat, barley monopoly together: CWB

Tue May 31, 2011 11:40am EDT
 
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By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - Ottawa plans to end the Canadian Wheat Board's marketing monopoly on spring wheat, durum and barley crops simultaneously in August 2012, the board's chairman said after meeting with Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz on Tuesday.

Ritz made his first-ever visit as minister to the Wheat Board's Winnipeg head office for a brisk 30-minute meeting to directly inform the marketing agency of the government's plans to scrap its monopoly on western Canadian grain.

Ritz has previously said the Conservative government intends to pass legislation to end the monopoly in August 2012, but the grain industry has been anxious to learn details of the change --- such as whether marketing of all three crops will change at the same time.

"That was clarified as well -- that wheat, durum and barley will be treated on the same timeline," said CWB Chairman Allen Oberg in an interview after meeting with Ritz.

After the meeting, Ritz said August 2012 -- the start of the 2012-13 crop marketing year -- will be the "logistic end" of the monopoly. Asked if that means the monopoly will end for all three crops at the same time, he said more discussions are needed with the board and other groups.

"We have some more consultations with the industry, whether it's the farmers themselves or the (grain) companies. At the end of the day, the legislation will reflect that and move forward."

Canada is the world's biggest exporter of spring wheat, durum and malting barley.

Western Canada's grain industry has operated since World War 2 under a marketing monopoly that requires farmers to sell wheat and barley via the board, unlike other crops such as canola.   Continued...

 
<p>Canada's Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz makes a statement to journalists on Parliament Hill in Ottawa September 17, 2008. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>