"We will not sit back and watch this government steamroll over farmers. We are going to stand our ground and fight for farmers," - Allen Oberg, chair of the Canadian Wheat Board's farmer-controlled board of directors.
Winnipeg (13 Sept. 2011) – Tens of thousands of Western Canadian farmers have sent a clear message to Ottawa, demanding the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) single-desk marketing system be retained.
Results of the CWB's plebiscite show a strong majority of farmers want to maintain their ability to market wheat and barley through a single-desk system.
Sixty-two percent of respondents voted in favour of retaining the single desk for wheat and 51 percent voted to retain it for barley. A total of 38,261 farmers submitted mail-in ballots in the plebiscite, a participation rate of 56 percent - on par with the last three federal elections and higher than many municipal and provincial elections.
"Farmers have spoken. Their message is loud and clear, and the government must listen," said Allen Oberg, chair of the CWB's farmer-controlled board of directors.
"Western Canadian producers have voted to keep their single-desk marketing system for wheat and barley. They cannot be ignored.
"We will not sit back and watch this government steamroll over farmers. We are going to stand our ground and fight for farmers."
The federal government plans to remove the CWB single desk by August 1, 2012. Minister Gerry Ritz has announced that enabling legislation will be introduced this fall, also removing the current legal requirement that such a change first be approved by Prairie farmers through an official plebiscite. The CWB's plebiscite was conducted to give producers a voice through a fair and democratic process.
Oberg said the plebiscite results show that the federal government is out of touch with farmers.
"For months, Minister Ritz has been claiming that the recent federal election was a mandate for the government to dismantle the CWB. Now we know otherwise. There is no mandate from farmers to strip away their marketing power."
Oberg said the CWB's board of directors is calling on the Government of Canada to respect the decision of farmers. He said the high participation rate leaves no doubt about what farmers want.
"The number of producers who voted shows that they are passionate about the CWB and demand a say in its future. As farmers, the CWB is our marketing organization. We pay for it, we run it, we have the right to decide its future. The government must now acknowledge this mandate from farmers and respect this decision."
MNP, a chartered accountancy and business advisory firm, coordinated the plebiscite and tabulated the results. More information can be found on the official plebiscite website at www.cwbvote.ca .
Controlled by western Canadian farmers, the CWB is the largest wheat and barley marketer in the world. One of Canada's biggest exporters, the Winnipeg-based organization sells grain to more than 70 countries and returns all sales revenue, less marketing costs, to Prairie farmers.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE