Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz says pending the bill's likely passage in the Senate before Christmas, Western Canadian farmers will be able to freely market their wheat and barley as they choose. Opponents say the move is fraught with economic disaster.
However, in advance of yesterday's anticipated third reading in the Commons of Bill C-18, The Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act, the Agriculture Ministers of the three most western provinces issued a statement of support for the legislation.
B.C.'s Don McRae says the Harper government should be "commended for fulfilling a commitment, that provides fairness, equity and opportunity for Western Canadian farmers." He adds, "This change provides farmers with an incentive to be more innovative in response to new and changing markets… and as a result, farm families and rural communities will have more control of their economic future."
Bob Zimmer, Member of Parliament for Prince George-Peace River and Member of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food is happy as well. He adds, “For far too long, these farmers have had no choice when it comes to marketing their product. With the passage of this legislation in the House of Commons, we are one step closer to making marketing freedom a reality.”
The legislation will now go to Senate for final approval. If it becomes law, farmers and grain companies will be able to enter into contracts for purchase or sale after August 1, 2012.
Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia together produce more than 80 per cent of the wheat, and 90 per cent of the barley, grown in Western Canada.