Farming

Canada Tosses Wheat Board with the Chaff

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The Canadian Wheat Board's (CWB) 76-year state-mandated monopsony as the only buyer of farmers' wheat in much of Western Canada has come to an end. In killing the board's monopsony power--if not the board itself--Alberta agriculture minister Evan Berger had this bit of awesome to say:

"The ultimate property right is what you do with your production, whether it be intellectual or physical. I believe we are giving back a property right, a freedom of choice, to farmers who make large investments, who have the wherewithal to sell their grain to whomever, whenever, at what price they see fit," he said.

More here from the CBC.

The CWB apparently had quite the power in Western Canada, as federal agriculture minister Gerry Ritz, a leading opponent of the board, describes in a video that accompanies the CBC story (sorry, not embeddable). In the video, Ritz describes how the board's nefarious grip extended even to donations, such that some farmers who had crossed provincial lines were thrown in jail for more than two months "simply for taking a bag of wheat in their half-ton truck across the [provincial] line and donating it to a 4-H club."

Yet the CWB, which apparently employs hundreds in its behemoth offices in downtown Winnipeg, is painting its own demise as an effort to "steamroll western Canadian wheat farmers."

But Saskatchewan agriculture minister Bob Bjornerud said he expects the CWB's loss of authority instead to lead to "rural reinvigoration, including a new generation of young farmers." If I were an editorial cartoonist, I'd co-opt the Canadian Wheat Board's steamroller and be hard at work scribbling the word "Progress" on a steamroller and drawing the steamroller running over something with "CWB" on it--so that everyone could tell what the heck I meant.

Bonus Canadian-themed story: Why did Wayne Gretzky's daughter shutter her Twitter account?

Baylen Linnekin is the director of Keep Food Legal, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving and increasing "culinary freedom," the right of all Americans to grow, sell, prepare and eat foods of their own choosing. To join or learn more about the group's activities, go hereTo follow Keep Food Legal on Twitter, go here; to follow Linnekin, go here.