CWB Transition Group Close To Final Recommendations
Written by Kelvin Heppner
Monday, 26 September 2011
The working group tasked with addressing issues surrounding the Canadian Wheat
Board's transition away from a single desk is finalizing its advice for the
federal agriculture minister.
"We're certainly very close to our final
recommendations now," says Richard Phillips, Executive Director of the Grain
Growers of Canada. The Grain Growers are a member of the transition
"Our recommendations are not on the design or structure of the
Canadian Wheat Board, but on the issues coming out of it, whether it's shortline
rail, or market access at ports for some of the smaller companies. How is
research going to be funded? How do we transition the Western Grains Research
Foundation? Those are the sorts of issues we've been looking at," he
The working group met with nine prairie farm groups, including
Keystone Agricultural Producers.
"We've thrown forward lots of concrete
ideas, and some of the groups like Keystone, the Wheat Growers and Barley
Growers put some real meat on the bone in their suggestions," says Phillips.
"There was also real unanimity within the farm groups in wanting to continue to
support the Canadian International Grains Institute and the research being done
through the Western Grains Research Foundation. Those are issues that I think
every group identified as priorities."
He says there was a broader range
of opinions when it came to the use of producer cars.
"Producer cars are
under the Canadian Grain Commission...so unless the Grain Commission is changed,
they will continue, but people want to know if they will continue to be a real
alternative or just a paper tiger. Certainly we got a number of recommendations
from producer car shippers and shortline railways, including Boundary Trails
Rail out of Manitoba," says Phillips.
Meanwhile, the future of the CWB
came up several times during the first week back in session in the House of
Commons. NDP MPs say they will use every parliamentary procedure possible to
prevent the government's legislation from passing in time to come into effect
"I don't think there's much that will be done in parliament
but we'll see a lot of smoke and noise. it will be interesting when the
legislation gets to committee whether the opposition comes forward with some
constructive suggestions and amendments. That's always interesting because
sometimes they can make the government take a second look at that time," he
says. "We'll have to see if the opposition actually goes down that pro-active
road or whether they just continue to oppose it completely...if farmers want to
see some middle ground on this, they should be talking to both the government
and the opposition."