Grain open market only days away
The countdown is on for the abolishing of the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB).
As of Aug. 1 the Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act will take effect, giving Western Canadian wheat and barley farmers the freedom to market their grain themselves as they see fit. These producers will no longer have to follow the mandatory requirement to market through the CWB.
The Canadian Government’s goal is to create open the market for Western wheat and barley that will attract investment, encourage innovation and create value-added jobs. However, the Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act is getting mixed reaction.
“It’s a mixed feeling. The family has always been a strong supporter of the Wheat Board of group marketing, but the government made its decision. We wish they would have let the producers vote on it, but it’s the government’s move. Now we’ll wait and see what the end result is,” said Leonard Blocka, a local farmer from the Prince Albert area.
“Our concern we may be controlled the large grain companies, but time will tell.”
Blocka is very familiar with protocol of producing, farming canola, wheat, barley, and oats. He said he hasn’t really decided if he’ll continue to go through the CWB or not. Even with the open market to the United States, Blocka explained it’s not really a feasible option for northern farmers, but added it’s way too soon tell.
“I would say generally the area up here, producers are hoping for the best,” Blocka said.
Kerry Peterson is one of those farmers who are hoping for the best.
“It’s been a long time coming. I think in the past the Canadian Wheat Board has served Western Canada well maybe 20 or 30 years ago, but I’m looking forward to this new era and this choice on how to market our grain,” Peterson said.
Farmers have been required to sell through the Canadian Wheat Board marketing monopoly for much longer than that. It was established on October 12, 1943 when Canada was dedicated to providing inexpensive wheat to Britain as part of the war effort.
Peterson said he knows there’s going to be a new set of challenges with the new system, but believes it will create a better profit in the end.
“We’re not stupid as producers, like we understand … the big grain buyers are going to take whatever they can, that’s a given. They’re not on our side either you know, but I think the competition thing is going to help us—like there’s going to be some options,” Peterson said.
“I think there’s lots of things that need to be ironed out yet and I think that everybody’s kind of cautiously optimistic and looking forward to what’s going to happen. I know there’s some pretty good wheat price contracts out right now that we’ve never typically seen in the fall and there remains to be seen how it will change, we’re just optimistic.”
Both farmers agree this next year is going to be new for both producers and buyers, but Blocka thinks this next year won’t make it any clearer.
“This may be a difficult year to analyze what will happen because of the extreme draught situation in the States and eastern Canada grain prices have strengthened dramatically and this may not be the optimum year to weigh out what actually will happen,” Blocka explained.
“You need an average year to weigh out the results.”
The efficacy of the Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act will not be known for some time, but it is clear that everyone is merely hoping for the best.