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Saturday, November 10, 2007 

Saskatchewan's New Right Wing Government Opts Out Of Fight To Save Canadian Wheat Board

"Premier-designate Brad Wall says his government won't pursue intervener status in the legal wrangling between Ottawa, the board and the Friends of the Canadian Wheat Board. [...] The previous NDP government had supported the court action, arguing that the federal government does not have the legal authority to make the change. But Wall says he'll opt out because the Saskatchewan Party supports choice."
CBC Saskatchewan

The CWB is the most egregious violations of farmer's rights in this country. Farmers should and must have the freedom to do with their crop as they wish.

It doesn't matter whether the CWB can get farmers a better price (highly debatable) or even if a majority of farmers want to continue the monopoly. The majority do not have the right to deprive others of such a basic freedom.

That the CWB monopoly only applies to western farmers makes this violation even more blatant.

Rabbit what a load of ideological schlock! The vast majority of SASKATCHEWAN farmers want the CWB to remain. I acknowledge that Alberta farmers are more your way of thinking. Your blind adherence to 19th century agricultural policy will once again, benefit ONLY the big multinationals - you will see how popular Wall's policies are once the big grain companies achieve the same that the big gasoline companies have ... price fixing (in the case of farmers they will be low).

Finally a government in Sask with common sense

I am afraid that what you call 'common sense' is more accurately described as right wing 'ideology' - there is nothing pragmatic or logical in what the Sask Party spouts as policy. The mindless worship of the
'unfettered free market' is so lame and so old and so tired and such an inefficient way to run a society.

Common sense ... I am surprised you didn't lob a couple of 'hope beats fear' slogans for good measure.

So primitive ... so dumb ... so 1950's!

What does it matter if a majority of farmers want to keep the CWB? That still shouldn't give them the right to force the rest of them to sell their grain, their own property, to the CWB. It's the small, inefficient farmers who support the CWB. The large farms with economies of scale don't want anything to do with it. I worked in agriculture in Manitoba for years and you could always gauge a farmer's support for the wheat board by how large his operation was and how well he ran it.

The unfortunate thing about Harper's stupid referen-dumb is that it lent validation to the idea that farmers have the right to make collective decisions, and those decision then apply to EVERYONE, whether they want it or not. Since when should anyone be allowed to vote on how his neighbour conducts his business?

"The mindless worship of the
'unfettered free market' is so lame and so old and so tired and such an inefficient way to run a society."

OK leftdog, I'll bite. What exactly is the most efficient way to run society?

It is amazing institutions farmers fought for over decades are now being destroyed by farmers who side with the Big Grain Companies.
Some of these comments are like those who in the labor realm support the right to work.
It is always in the name of freedom that the interests of big corporations are upheld against those of the farmer and the worker.
The US has been fighting against the Wheat Board in Canada and Australia for ages because it gives our farmers an advantage.
By the way there are all sorts of laws that the majority pass that say how you will do business.
And for that matter do none of these farmers have contracts to grow GM grains. Those contracts will certainly limit what you can do with your crop.

http://kencan7.blogspot.com

Leftdog....I'm with the Bogeyman on this one......It's easy to climb up on a soapbox and pontificate...but do you have a better solution????

If you do, then enlighten and educate us...please!!

I believe in a society where the economy serves the needs of the society and not the reverse. I believe in a balanced economy where the free market operates alongside co-operative enterprise and some public enterprise.

I belong to a co-op and have chosen to buy the bulk of my groceries and gas from it. Yet I have NO problem with private sector grocery stores and gas stations. Free market radicals would wipe out co-operative enterprise if they could.

I believe that some there is a place for some crown enterprise in our society.

I do not consider 'health care' to be a commodity that is bought and sold on the open market.

I OPPOSE complete state controlled enterpise like the Soviets tried to achieve on the extreme left end of the political spectrum.

I OPPOSE complete unrestricted free market enterprise like many nations in Latin America have tried to achieve on the extreme right end of the political spectrum.

I favour a balanced free enterprise economy which has room for the cooperative movement and some crown investment.

Leftdog:

I didn't know that individual freedom, the freedom to do with the fruits of one's labours as one wished, was ideological schlock. If that is 19'th century policy, bring it on, cause this modern-day "tyranny of the majority" stuff is oppressive.

And for that matter do none of these farmers have contracts to grow GM grains. Those contracts will certainly limit what you can do with your crop.

If a farmer willingly signs a contract to sell his product to a particular buyer, he is making an independent decision, and he is signing it because he gets something out of it as well. The farmer gets a guaranteed buyer, and often a guaranteed price (based on whatever the spot price is at the time of sale). This applies to GM and non-GM crops, so I'm not sure why you threw the GM reference in there, other than to raise another boogieman.

That's all the pro-dual marketing farmers are asking for - the right to be able to contract, or not contract, with the CWB. As it stands right now, the only way a farmer can market his own grain is if he buys back his own product from the CWB. Your comparison between being forced to sell to the CWB and willingly signing a contract with a company is a red herring, and no comparison at all. If anything, it weakens your argument.

Your problem is that you consider the very word 'corporation' to be inherently evil and harmful to the rest of us. Fortunately your hate-on for corporations is irrelevant. The fact is, sooner or later the farmers who wish to break free of the wheat board will do it. Those same farmers are the most aggressive, expansionist, and market-savy among their peers. The CWB is nothing but a tool for luddites to hold successful farmers back for the benefit of the rest of them. Of course the smaller farmers resent these large farming enterprises, which are often incorporated, because they know they'll ultimately end up selling their land to them and probably end up working for them. But that's just the reality of agriculture. To try and insulate the "family farm" from this reality is just delaying the inevitable.

lefdog sez: "I OPPOSE complete state controlled enterpise"

The Canadian Wheat Board qualifies as "complete state controlled enterpise".

uncle meat your being a dink ... I said COMPLETE - where the ENTIRE ECONOMY IS state controlled!

The raging ranter is right that with GM crops there is a voluntary contract but when you are part of society there is an implicit contract that you will obey laws that are passed by a majority even though you may not agree with them.
Such is the case with laws requiring you to drive on the right side of the road, to pay taxes that are used for purposes we often abhor and on and on including laws that restrict how businesses may operate. We accept these because we think that overall the situation is better than without a government where life would be nasty, brutish and short as Hobbes put it.
A majority of western farmers fought for and got single desk selling through the Wheat Board. By the way it is not an ordinary state enterprise since the majority of the board are elected farmers.
Many studies have shown that the wheat board gives Canadian farmers an advantage. That is why Big Grain and the US are fighting to destroy it. It is true that the Board does impose marketing through the board of wheat but this is to the advantage of all farmers. Big Grain always waves the flag of freedom to enslave farmers. The only free choice will be them. In fact the aim is to prevent by international law any such state trading monopoly in the future by law. There will be no choice but the grain oligopolies for marketing.

I guess "complete state controlled enterpise" in certain sectors is ok then. Thanks for pointing out the difference.

Both the US and EU are trying to destroy the Wheat Board and marketing boards. See this site:

http://www.nupge.ca/news_2006/n11my06a.htm

and also other attacks on Wheat Board.

http://www.nupge.ca/news_2007/n13jn07b.htm

or my blog:

http://kencan7.blogspot.com

Cheers, Ken

(Received by email)

Hi Leftdog,
I really wanted to leave a comment regarding the Sask Party / CWB
posting but I really am not interested in getting a Google account.
thus, I am filling up your e-mail account with the response:

"To all of the genius commenters cheering the demise of the CWB and
the freeing of the oppressed individual "successful farmer" - you're
all farmers, right? As such, you've been paying attention to your
brother and sister farmers down south in the land of the free market
and home of unfettered corporations and know that the "family" farm
is, well, going the way of the Dodo bird. Why is that? Should be just
the opposite shouldn't it? Oh, the ones that fail just weren't good
farmers - of course. Tens of thousands of them. Amazing so many bad
farmers managed to exist prior to the emergence of the giant agri-
business corporations that bestow largesse and promise... oh wait,
Agri-business doesn't work that way, does it? No, it chews up and
spits out anyone who can't stand up to them - which is your average
family farm.
You folks cheering the demise of the CWB are short-sighted, history
challenged fools."

I had to write something to release a little of the anger I feel
towards such terminally blind-stupid people.
I wonder how long before the Sask Party fucks up the province?
Hopefully they'll be turfed before then because it 's only a matter
of time.
My apologies for going this way.

theo

Theo:

I have a modest suggestion.

Make dealing with the CWB optional.

That way, all of those farmers who feel they need protection against big evil multinational corporations can stay under the protective wing of the CWB and reap the rewards. Those farmers who want to tough it out on their own can sell to whom they wish. If what you say is true, then few farmers will want to go the second route, but farmers options will at least have increased. It might even make the CWB work harder on behalf of the farmers.

Now isn't that fair and reasonable?

(Hi Leftdog
I have to respond to Rabbit's fair and reasoned response.
Please?
theo)


Rabbit said:
"If what you say is true, then few farmers will want to go the second
route, but farmers options will at least have increased. It might even
make the CWB work harder on behalf of the farmers.
Now isn't that fair and reasonable?"
You'd think so, but no, it isn't. The CWB has to represent everyone or
it can't operate effectively.
What a marketing board brings is the strength and power of numbers. The
scenarios farmers (even big successful farmers) will find when they
have to deal with the big grain consortiums by themselves is this:
Every spring farmers have to plant their crops. We'll assume they're
planting one or more of the CWB controlled grains. To get that crop
into the ground requires a chunk of coin. The bigger the farm, the
bigger the chunk of coin will be required. With the rising cost of
fuel, fertilizer and seed that is a chunk of coin that is going to
continue to rise every year thus requiring a bigger price per bushel
every year just to break even on planting costs.

Scenario 1)The farmer has a magic year (in fact, everyone has a magic
year) and all crops are pulled off with a no. 1 rating. The big farmer
(and the little farmer) go to sell their grain to the big evil
multinational grain corporation and it says,"there's a glut on the
market, we'll only pay x per bushel." The little farmer and the big
farmer know that doesn't even cover the cost of putting the crop in the
ground. They're fucked but not necessarily broke.

Scenario 2)The farmer has a magic year (and there is a world wide
shortage of grain) and all crops are pulled off with a no. 1 rating.
The big farmer (and the little farmer) go to sell their grain to the
big evil multinational grain corporation and it says,"We'll only pay x
per bushel." The little farmer and the big farmer know that doesn't
even cover the cost of putting the crop in the ground. The farmer
says,"But there's a shortage!"
The big evil multinational grain corporation says,"Tough shit, take it
or leave it!" and they're the only game in town. The farmer is fucked
but not necessarily broke yet but sooner or later will be and the big
evil multinational grain corporation buys their land at the cheapest
price they can. Big evil multinational grain corporations like to
control all the parts of production because it gives them greater
bargaining power to set grain prices, deal with governments and get
agricultural subsidies from said governments when times are tough and
even when times are not and in general, just be what they are: big evil
multinational grain corporations.

Rabbit, that's why there's not too many family farms left in the
states. All you farmers that think you can get better spot prices all
the time over what the CWB gets you: the history of what's happened in
the states will happen here.

theo

OK, let's have at it...

The question I asked was, "What exactly is the most efficient way to run a society?"

You responded with your belief system.

Could you explain how your belief system is more efficient than the present system? Do you have details, data, analysis, forecasts, history etc.? Something other than "take my word for it"?

Let me begin by poking a hole in your first statement...

I believe in a society where the economy serves the needs of the society and not the reverse.

When you say "serves the needs of society", the simple question that begs to be asked is, "By whose standard?"

That needs to be the foundation of your argument...

Not to be argumentative here leftdog, but provide us with solid proof that your way of thinking is "more efficient".

Left Dog, I grew up on a small family farm. A small family farm that basically disappeared because it was too small to make a living from. The option was to either expand or quit. My Dad chose to quit and started working for agriculture-related enterprises, selling stuff to farms much bigger than his own. He also drove a school bus. Fortunately for us, my mother worked as a kindergarten teacher (only half time mind you), so we got by. Barely.

Granted, the transition is not always easy. Some in our community chose to borrow money and expand, as the government at the time was telling them to do, and when interest rates went up, they lost everything. I can't even count the number of farm auctions (foreclosure sales) I went to as a kid as farms went under. Sometimes it seemed like we were at another auction every weekend. For a few summers in the early 80s, we probably were.

We watched many friends pack up and move away. Many others went down with their farms. There were a couple of suicides. Every small community had their suicides by farmers in financial trouble. The school I went to as a kid is now slated for closure, because the MB Interlake community I grew up in is emptying out of young families. The few that are left will have to bus their kids 30 or 40 miles one way. The teachers who work there will have to move or retire. (My Mother has already retired.)

So you don't need to lecture me on the plight of the family farm. I lived it, and my family is proof that there is life after farming. Most of those who moved away to Winnipeg or beyond enjoy a better quality of life than they ever did on the farm. You couldn't pay them enough to move back. (As a kid, I was insanely jealous of the ones who moved to Winnipeg. When Winnipeg is a step up, you know you're living in a deadzone!) The purpose of telling you this is not to give you a sob story, because nearly every rural hamlet on the prairies (unless they happen to be sitting on a pile of dead dinosaurs) has gone through the same thing. And they've gone through all this WITH the CWB. The CWB is just one more stop-gap measure, one more archaic institution that is impeding the inevitable changeover from the family farm to the family-owned farming corporation. Economies of scale have become so huge in agriculture that the small family farm is about to become a fossil. Keeping the CWB around only hinders those farms that have adapted enough to survive and prosper.

(Hi Leftdog,
A final comment for Raging Ranter).

"Left Dog, I grew up on a small family farm. A small family farm that
basically disappeared because it was too small to make a living from.
The option was to either expand or quit."

Quite so RR, the family farm of my Grandfather's time was a quarter,
maybe half a section. There's no way you can farm efficiently at that
size given the cost and operating scales of modern farm equipment.

"So you don't need to lecture me on the plight of the family farm. I
lived it, and my family is proof that there is life after farming."

That's good to hear.

"Most of those who moved away to Winnipeg or beyond enjoy a better
quality of life than they ever did on the farm. You couldn't pay them
enough to move back."

Funny thing, a lot of my relatives say the same thing about moving to
the big city.

"And they've gone through all this WITH the CWB. The CWB is just one
more stop-gap measure, one more archaic institution that is impeding
the inevitable changeover from the family farm to the family-owned
farming corporation."

The CWB's mandate is to get the best price it can for the grain
products it markets. Nowhere in that mandate is it the CWB's business
to help farmers who make bad business decisions which is the
implication I get reading your comment.

"Economies of scale have become so huge in agriculture that the small
family farm is about to become a fossil."

The family farm that you describe died a generation ago. The family
farms that exist today probably average a section and a half to two
sections. These farms, run intelligently and with good business
practices are quite viable and are operated by people who love what
they do.

"Keeping the CWB around only hinders those farms that have adapted
enough to survive and prosper."

Keeping the CWB allows those farms the ability to exist. The fact that
you can't recognize the rapaciousness and greed of the modern
multinational agricultural concern is depressing.

theo

I think raging ranter is correct that the Wheat Board certainly has not prevented the trend towards larger and larger farms. What it has done though is give the farmer a better return through single desk selling. That is precisely why the US and EU are bound and determined to do away with it.
What is your explanation of these attacks? There is nothing archaic about the institution. It exists in Australia as well and the same attempt to destroy is happening there.

Farmers in Australia have had dual marketing for years now. The wheat board there has been effectively neutered. The EU and the US attack the CWB because of silly protectionist impulses, not for any logical reason.

The raging ranter is apparently just that. The Australian wheat board is still single desk:

Australian Government review of wheat marketing arrangements
AWB’s submission to the Wheat Export Marketing Consultation Committee

AWB’s submission to the Wheat Export Marketing Consultation Committee (WEMCC) was lodged on Friday 23 February 2007 and is now available online.

The key themes from AWB’s submission are outlined below:

the current Single Desk wheat marketing arrangements are a legislated mandate and AWB has fulfilled its ultimate objective – to maximise net returns to wheat growers. AWB surveys, and the feedback from WEMCC meetings, show that a majority of wheat growers continue to support those arrangements or a version of those arrangements
further changes to Single Desk arrangements are warranted but should be gradual and linked to the global trade reform timetable and structural adjustment within the domestic grains industry, to ensure wheat growers are globally competitive and financially viable
AWB recommends a de-merger of AWB Limited and AWB International as a sensible evolution of the current arrangements
deregulation of the current Single Desk arrangements will not produce an efficient and effective contestable market for the sale of Australian wheat unless reform is extended to include state-based bulk handling monopolies and the needs of international customers
the key findings of the January 2007 IPSOS survey show:
over 80 percent of wheat growers, both small and large, support retention of the Single Desk wheat export marketing arrangements
two out of three wheat growers feel positive about AWB management of those arrangements
wheat grower satisfaction with the services provided by AWB grain marketers has actually increased from 64 percent to 72 percent.
the core Single Desk principles identified by growers in the IPSOS survey are:
most general wheat growers value payment security (95 percent) and a National Pool (90 percent) as core principles of the current wheat export marketing arrangements
the next most important principles for general wheat growers are a grower controlled national wheat marketing body (88 percent) and industry good services (88 percent)
other core principles for general wheat growers include the bulk veto (79 percent) and a buyer of last resort facility (74 percent).


THis is from the website:
http://www.awb.com.au/aboutawb/factsandindustryinformation/singledeskbenefits/reviewofwheatmarketingarrangements/

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