Farmers Attend Canadian Wheat Board Alliance Meeting

Submitted by:
Brendan Sigurdson |

Approximately 50 farmers attended the Canadian Wheat Board Alliance meeting on the evening of Wednesday, February 10, 2016 in Swan River.

The presenters were: Ron Kostyshyn, Manitoba Agriculture Minister and MLA for Swan River; Kyle Korneychuk, former elected CWB director and farmer from Pelly, SK; and Ken Sigurdson, farmer from Swan River representing the Canadian Wheat Board Alliance. The meeting was chaired by farmer, Walter Kolisnyk from Minitonas.

Farmers and Valley residents discussed the financial impacts of losing the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) single-desk selling system.

Agriculture Minister Ron Kostyshyn said he is very concerned about the financial situation of farmers since the loss of the CWB.

He also expressed concern about the future of the rail line to the valley as well as the rail line to Churchill.

Other meeting participants and RM councillors also expressed concerns about the recent closures of elevators and the long-term implications for the rail line.

Kyle Korneychuk, explained what the CWB used to do. He said when he first became a director he had no idea of all the tasks the CWB performed. He said the CWB coordinated the movement of grain, provided the logistics for rail and ocean freight.

Kyle said the CWB provided a high quality branded product into the world market. They did market research, weather analysis and returned all profits minus operating expenses to farmers.

Kyle revealed that the CWB provided fusarium blending programs and did paper blending for the benefit of farmers. Under the system controlled by grain companies there are little and sometimes no protein premiums being paid to farmers.

He questioned the crowd if they knew what the freight rate they were paying. No one was able to answer. He used this to explain that there is no price transparency.

Kyle said producer cars are a thing of the past without the CWB. Without the CWB there is no farmer friendly purchaser for farmers’ grain. Kyle said there are dealer cars offered by the large grain companies to farmers and these companies set the price.

Ken Sigurdson quoted Richard Gray, Agricultural Economist, U of S, explaining farmer losses in 2013/14 and 2014/15 years: “The resulting increase in export basis is reflected in a lower price paid to producers and reduced farm revenues, means that the minimum total value of loss to producers is approximately $6.5 billion dollars.”

Sigurdson revealed that with the CWB single-desk system farmers used to receive over 90% of the port price and without the CWB farmers now receive between 40-60% of the port price for wheat.

Sigurdson calculated the loss to the Swan River Valley to be over 70 million dollars over the last 2 years. He said, “This is money lost to farmers and the community and transferred directly to grain handling companies and railways.”

Sigurdson explained the Vancouver, Thunder Bay and Churchill situations which have all become inefficient and under-utilized because of the removal of the CWB coordinated grain movement.

Sigurdson said, the port of Churchill will be the next casualty caused by the end of the single-desk CWB; although it remains a strategically valuable national resource, it is at risk of losing its economic reason for existence—grain movement.

“The single-desk CWB was the economic lynch pin which made prairie grain production viable by insuring the efficient movement and reliable delivery of high quality-assured grain to customers and guaranteeing that farmers received the premiums customers paid. To get the advantages of the CWB there is no other solution than to reinstate the CWB single-desk selling system,” Sigurdson concluded.

Farmers unanimously passed the following resolution to support efforts to reinstate the single-desk Canadian Wheat Board:

WHEREAS, The loss of the farmer elected, single-desk Canadian Wheat Board has resulted in an increasingly dysfunctional rail system, no grain logistics oversight, a loss of transport efficiency on rail and at sea, reduced grain quality guarantees to other nations, and an overall loss of 6.5 billion dollars in income to farmers over the last two years, which has been devastating to the economy of Western Canada; and

WHEREAS, The ending of the CWB marketing system has resulted in the loss of thousands of jobs across Canada including 460 direct good quality jobs in the heart of Winnipeg and a further 1,834 full-time equivalent jobs that were sustained by the CWB’s administrative expenditures;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, That this meeting supports the farmers of Western Canada by calling for the re-establishment of the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB), and single-desk selling of grain in western Canada.