The Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act will allow Western farmers and companies to forward contracts for the delivery of grain after August 1, 2012. Over the next five years, the Wheat Board will be transitioned into private ownership and will remain as a voluntary pooling option for those farmers who wish to use it.
“This legislation will allow our local grain farmers the opportunity to decide when, where, and how they sell their products, giving Western wheat and barley growers the same marketing freedom and opportunities as other Canadian farmers,” said Bob Zimmer, MP for Prince-George Peace River and a member of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food, in a statement.
The Canadian Wheat Board was established by Parliament in 1935 with the aim of controlling grain prices in the midst of the Great Depression. Membership was made compulsory for Western Canadian farmers in 1943, and in 1965, the Canadian Wheat Board Act was amended to establish the board as a permanent, single-desk marketer of grains for prairie farmers. The Wheat Board used to have control over feed grains, rapeseed and sunflowers as well, but only non-feed wheat and barley remain controlled by the Board today.
Still, Western farmers and agribusinesses have increasingly called for the reform or complete abolition of the Wheat Board, feeling they are missing opportunities on the open market that are available to other crops such as canola. The Peace region is the only area of British Columbia under the jurisdiction of the Wheat Board, and the BC Grain Producers Association has come out in support of marketing choice for its members.
Under the new legisltion, access to producer cars will continue to be administered by the Canadian Grain Commission, and the government maintains that farmers' rights to producer cars will be protected, and that short-line railways and inland terminals will still play an important role in getting wheat and barely to domestic and international markets.
The administration of the Advanced Payment Program for wheat and barley will be transferred to the Canola Growers Association of Canada to ensure there is no interuption of the program.
More information on the Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act can be found at http://www4.agr.gc.ca/AAFC-AAC/display-afficher.do?id=1318619331542&lang=eng.