Farmers for economic freedom

Updates from the Canadian Farm Enterprise Network and the Canadian Farmers for Justice. Several of the items appearing here originally appeared in an email list operated by Dwayne Leslie at http://www3.mb.sympatico.ca/~dleslie/aglinks.htm

web posted June 1998

National Citizens' Coalition launches radio campaign against CWB

The National Citizens' Coalition launched a radio blitz to let Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and Wheat Board Minister Ralph Goodale in on the news that the Second World War is over.

"The radio campaign opposes the Canadian Wheat Board monopoly, which was imposed on western farmers as a wartime measure," explains NCC president Stephen Harper. "Our radio ads say the war ended over 50 years ago; it's long past time to scrap the monopoly and restore freedom to farmers."

The radio spots also slam Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's hypocrisy of preaching human rights in Cuba while supporting the wheat board monopoly at home.

"How can Chrétien lecture Fidel Castro about freedom while here in Canada western farmers are going to jail for selling their own wheat?" asks Harper.

The radio campaign, which began May 14, ran both in Western Canada and in Ottawa.

"We are taking our message to Ottawa because we want to speak directly to politicians like Chrétien and Goodale," says Harper. "This is one message they won't be able to ignore."

Besides running ads opposing the Wheat Board monopoly, the NCC is also helping fund the court challenge of Saskatchewan grain farmer Dave Bryan, who charges that Wheat Board restrictions violate is right to private property.

Why Cattlemen Should Be Passionate About a Deregulated Barley Market
May 11, 1998

By Kevin Avram

Indications are that there’s a growing unsettledness in the US with Canadian agricultural policy. Although the source of the agitation is Canadian government grain policy, the expression of American reaction to situation could bring significant problems to the cattle and pork industry.

Cattlemen and cattle organizations have traditionally believed that federal grain policy has nothing to do with them. Mentally, they make a clear distinction between agriculture that is related to farming, and agriculture that involves livestock production. In the new and modern world of international trade, however, this distinction is pure fiction. In the mind’s eye of our trading partner to the south, no such distinction exists. They trade with “Canada”. For this reason, Canadian cattlemen would do well to pay attention to what’s happening to grain regulation, as in matters of politics and international trade, the rule of thumb to follow is that public perception is crucial. The way the electorate perceives a situation — rightly or wrongly — will form the boundary of political reality.

The Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) is a secretive, government-regulated mechanism that a growing number of Americans see as the creator of a distorted feed grain price in Canada. This, they say, although not a direct subsidy, creates a trade distortion that benefits Canadian cattlemen. Their beef on this issue is not without some basis in fact. It goes something like this:

Traditionally, western Canada grows a surplus of barley. We supply the domestic market — feed and malt — and we export. However, because of CWB regulations, Canadian farmers who grow barley can’t sell into a location where the price is established by a true reflection of supply and demand. There’s no way to get access to market signals that clarify the potential value of that barley. The only non-domestic price signal available is the price being offered by the Wheat Board.

This is where it gets dicey, because as far as the US cattleman is concerned, the CWB-offered price is not a market price, but a government price that’s essentially set by political decree. Most Canadian barley growers end up opting for the domestic feed market, meaning that they accept a Canadian-made price for their grain. The Americans argue that this Canadian-made price is artificial. They conclude that a surplus of barley, plus no way for a farmer to get an accurate non-domestic market signal, equals downward pressure on pricing.

The Americans interests who support this premise, argue that the Canadian cattle and pork industry have regular and ongoing access to an artificial oversupply of feed barley. To support their argument, they point to such things as statements made by former CWB commissioner, Ken Beswick, who at one time pegged an annual loss to Canadian barley growers at $180 million.

There are Canadian interests who deny this distortion exists. Instead, they claim that the Canadian cattle industry pays a premium for barley. This sounds good, but remember, when it comes to the politics of international trade, perception is reality. The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) has recently accelerated the issue by appearing before the Senate Agricultural Committee, saying that cattlemen like the CWB monopoly because it ensures they have guaranteed access to a minimum supply of barley. Some time later, the CCA made a contradictory statement, claiming that it supports an open system for barley, yet has never retracted the pro-CWB statements put forward to the Senate of Canada. What must the Americans think?

With ongoing talk of doubling beef production in Canada, and tripling the output of pork, it’s a safe bet that the politics surrounding the issue of distorted feed grain pricing is going to grow much hotter. If you look at it from the point of view of the American cattleman, it’s easy to see why.

Kevin Avram is Chairman of the Advisory Board with the Prairie Centre/Centre for Prairie Agriculture, Inc. “Where Do We Go From Here” is a feature service of the Prairie Centre.

PRAIRIE CENTRE Centre for Prairie Agriculture, Inc. 1055 Park Street Regina, SK S4N 5H4 Phone: 306-352-3828 Fax: 306-352-5833 Email: prairie.centre@sk.sympatico.ca

The purpose of the Prairie Centre is to promote greater freedom for the individual and to carry out an educational role with respect to wealth creation and responsible public policy.

Senators ignore pleas for choice

Senators have endorsed legislation that will enshrine two classes of wheat farmers in Canada, said Larry Maguire, President of the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association on May 15.

Maguire was commenting on the final report of the Senate Agriculture and Forestry Committee on Bill C-4, an Act to Amend the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) Act.

The committee's report is a "whitewash" that completely ignores the overwhelming desire of prairie farmers to have a choice in how they market their grain, says Maguire. It comes at a time when wheat farmers in Ontario have adopted a system that will enable them to opt out of single-desk marketing.

"Despite the representations of farmer after farmer at the public hearings, the Senators do not adequately address the issue of a voluntary marketing system," says Maguire. "By ignoring the Ontario situation, it appears that this report will further fuel western alienation and regional divisions."

Maguire says the amended Bill C-4 will not deliver a system that allows farmers to determine their own destiny. The government will have five members on the Board of Directors, the directors and the CWB will answer directly to Ottawa and the Board of Directors will only be "consulted" on the appointment of the President.

"When you add to these roadblocks a Minister who has consistently blocked any consideration of a voluntary marketing system, you have a recipe for the status quo," he says.

Maguire says he finds it difficult to believe that Minister Goodale, who refused to even allow a freedom of choice option in last year's barley vote, would allow farmers to design an opt-out similar to the Ontario program.

Maguire favours the committee's proposal to remove the inclusion and exclusion clauses which would provide a mechanism for crops to be added to the monopoly. However, the provision of the existing act to exclude crops should have been reinstated.

Maguire adds that the provision for the Auditor-General to audit the CWB will only be useful if the audit is released publicly.

Maguire also expressed concern about the committee's recommendation that one vote be provided to each CWB permit book holder in electing producer directors. He says the magnitude of each producer's stake in the industry, and the interests of non-permit book holders, must somehow be taken into account.

NCC launches huge media campaign against Goodale

The National Citizens' Coalition says Wheat Board Minister Ralph Goodale should have marked June 2 on his calendar.

"That's the day," says NCC president Stephen Harper days earlier, "that our group is launching a massive, one day, anti-wheat monopoly radio blitz. It will run on 23 radio stations in 20 cities. We plan to blanket western Canada and Ottawa."

Harper admits that the NCC was pressured to launch the unprecedented radio attack after Goodale publicly denounced NCC supporters on national TV.

"Goodale responded to an anti-wheat monopoly radio ad [mentioned above - ed.] by saying that we didn't know a bushel of barley from a handful of rice," says Harper. "Hundreds of western farmers are sponsoring those ads. They have made it clear to us that they don't think a professional politician should get away with saying he knows more about the grain business than they do."

Harper says the June 2 radio campaign drove home a message. "If Goodale thinks this issue will die, he is sadly mistaken. His phoney attempts at Wheat Board reform still don't allow for a voluntary Board. This is a basic issue of freedom and western farmers won't give up."

One of the radio ads which ran on June 2 slams the Liberal government hypocrisy of preaching human rights in Cuba while jailing western Canadian farmers for selling their own grain. Another ad asks why Wheat Board operations remain secret and its employees are protected from liability for illegal activities.


The CFEN and CFFJ needs your help! The battle against the Canada Wheat Board can only continue with your support.

Canadian Farm Enterprise Network
Box 521
Central Butte, Saskatchewan
S0H 0T0
CANADA

Canadian Farmers for Justice
c/o Ron Duffy
RR#4
Lacombe, Alberta
T0C 1S0
CANADA

Write the following and demand free market rights for Western Canadian farmers!

The Canadian Wheat Board
423 Main Street
P.O. Box 816, Stn. M.
Winnipeg, MB
Canada
R3C 2P5

Telephone: (204) 983-0239 / 1-800-ASK-4-CWB
Fax: (204) 983-3841

Email Address: cwb@cwb.ca

Ralph Goodale
Minister Responsible for the Canada Wheat Board
Department of Natural Resources Canada
21 - 580 Booth Street
Ottawa, ON
Canada
K1A 0E4

Telephone: (613)996-2007
Fax Number: (613)996-4516
Email Address: rgoodale@NRCan.gc.ca

 




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