January 19, 2009 / 6:22 PM / in 9 years

Canada does not plan barley legislation: minister

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada’s Conservative government will not introduce legislation in the short term to seek an end to the Canadian Wheat Board’s monopoly on barley marketing, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said on Monday.

“We are holding back on legislation on barley,” Ritz told reporters on a conference call.

“I don’t see that on my radar screen in the next short time,” he said, adding that he would focus on expanding international trade opportunities for agricultural exporters.

Ritz said the government remains committed to eventually reforming the farmer-controlled CWB, one of the world’s largest wheat exporters.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, first elected in 2006, has wanted to give Prairie farmers the choice of selling to the CWB or dealing directly with buyers.

Ottawa’s first attempt to open up barley marketing was successfully challenged in court. It later introduced legislation on the issue, but never brought it before Parliament for a vote.

Harper won a strengthened minority in an election last October and will lay out his policy agenda in a major speech on Monday, when Parliament resumes.

Reporting by Louise Egan; editing by Peter Galloway

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