Manitoba to fight changes to Canadian Wheat Board

Mon Jun 13, 2011 3:34pm EDT
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By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - The province of Manitoba will lead an advertising campaign to stop the federal government from stripping the Canadian Wheat Board of its monopoly on the Western Canadian grain trade, the provincial government said on Monday.

The government plans to introduce legislation this autumn to end the Wheat Board's marketing monopoly on wheat, durum and barley by August 2012.

Manitoba has no direct say in the future of the Wheat Board, which is governed by federal law and controlled by government appointees and farmer-elected directors.

But Premier Greg Selinger said the province is joining the Wheat Board and some farm groups in demanding that Ottawa hold a vote by farmers to decide the CWB's future, as required by the current legislation.

"With a farmer-controlled organization, it's fundamental that they have the say and the plebiscite," he told reporters at a news conference.

Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz has refused to call a farmer vote on the CWB's future, saying that farmers voiced their opinion by electing the Conservatives in the May 2 general election.

"It's disappointing but not surprising that the Manitoba government would be against an open and competitive market that would attract investment, encourage innovation and create value-added jobs," Ritz said in a written statement on Monday.

"The CWB and the Manitoba government should work constructively to let every farmer decide how they market their grain instead of engaging in gratuitous fear-mongering," he said.   Continued...

<p>Canadian wheat grows in a field near Teulon, Manitoba, July 26, 2006. REUTERS/Shaun Best</p>