Wednesday, 08 April 2015 14:52

Agriculture is a disaster under federal Conservatives

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Editor:


Since the Conservatives destroyed the orderly marketing of western wheat, farmers are taking home a much smaller share of the export price for their red spring wheat.  New data has recently been published by the Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission, and can be found at Saskwheatcommission.com.  The Wheat Commission says that farmers are looking at a loss of $2 Billion from their bottom lines as that money has been soaked up by grain handlers increasing their charges as export prices rose.  As the export price for Number 1 CWRS spring wheat went up, prices paid to farmers actually went down. 


How can this happen?  By destroying the market power provided by the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) in 2011, the Conservative government made it possible for the grain handling companies to buy at the lowest possible price from farmers, sell at the highest price possible, and stick the rest in their own pockets.  The grain companies have become margin traders.
 
The orderly marketing system in place until 2011 meant that farmers usually received over 80% of the actual sales price, and grain handlers received a fair fee for the service they provided.  Now farmers actually receive much less of the actual sales price.
But it gets worse.  According to the President of the National Millers Association of Canada some Canadian domestic mills in Ontario have had to shut down at times because they couldn’t get their hands on western Canadian Wheat.  So our own Canadian mills aren’t even being served properly by the Conservative grain handling system.
 
Not serving markets (even the domestic markets) properly is another problem to be laid at the feet of David Anderson and the Conservative government.  When the CWB was excluded from transportation and logistics discussions with the railways all sorts of new problems arose—problems that the Conservatives were completely unprepared for because they hadn’t done their homework.  The government has even been forced to enact emergency Order-In-Council regulations to try to manage the rail system from their offices in Ottawa.  We all know how what a great idea that is.
 
After nine long years in power, the Conservatives still refuse to conduct a full costing review of the rail companies, even though credible studies from 2010 and 2015 show that rail companies have been over-charging farmers to the tune of a couple of hundred million dollars every year.
 
And now, behind the scenes, the Conservatives are trying to find ways to end the revenue cap placed on the railways when moving grain.
 
Regardless of the legalities of destroying the CWB, western farmers should be compensated for their money that was used to build up the marketing power of the CWB; this money came directly from grain sales and CWB activities related to those grain sales.  The Conservatives have already talked about compensating dairy farmers for the loss of supply management.  If the government will not restore some market power for grain farmers, why not at least treat them fairly and compensate them for what has been taken away over the last 9 years of Conservative government?
 

Trevor Peterson, Assiniboia

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