Red Deer MP Earl Dreeshen Applauds Harper Government’s Commitment to Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers

October 19, 2011
OTTAWA – Earl Dreeshen, Member of Parliament for Red Deer, is pleased to announce that the Government of Canada has introduced legislation giving Western Canadian wheat and barley farmers the freedom to market their grain as they choose. Bill C-18, The Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act was tabled on October 18, 2011 by Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and will unleash the true economic potential of the prairie grain sector. An open grain market will attract investment, encourage innovation, create value-added jobs, and build a stronger economy for all Canadians.

“Farmers work hard to all year round to feed the world. Every farmer deserves the freedom to choose how to market their grain, whether it is individually or through a voluntary pooling entity,” said Dreeshen. “Our Government is delivering on our long-standing promise to give Western Canadian grain farmers the same marketing freedom that the rest of Canada already has, just as they have when selling their canola or pulses.”

The Canadian Wheat Board monopoly was imposed on Western Canadian farmers by Parliament in 1943 when Canada was committed to supplying inexpensive wheat to Britain during World War II. The legislation tabled yesterday will remove the monopoly of the Canadian Wheat Board and give marketing choice to all farmers, returning to farmers the right to market their wheat and barley in the best interest of their individual farms and businesses.

Farmers will still have the choice of whether to sell on an open market or through a voluntary CWB. The legislation will allow an interim Canadian Wheat Board to act as a voluntary marketing entity, supported by the federal Government while it transitions to full private ownership. The legislation will also immediately allow farmers and companies to forward contract for the delivery of grain after August 1, 2012.

As part of the ongoing commitment to farmers and the importance of the Port of Churchill as a shipping option, the Harper Government will provide an economic incentive of up to $5 million per year for five years to support shipments of grain, including oilseeds, pulses and special crops, through the Port of Churchill. We will also provide support through funding of up to $4.1 million over three years to maintain the Port during the transition period. In addition, the port infrastructure project presently funded through an agreement with the Churchill Gateway Development Corporation will be extended to 2015. Finally, in consultation with all stakeholders, our Government will explore options for the future of Churchill and the Port of Churchill.

Dreeshen, who asked a question of Minister Ritz in yesterday’s question period regarding the Bill C-18 and who is slated to debate the Bill in the House of Commons later this week, is looking forward to the economic benefits for grain growers and the value added sector. “An open market will attract further investment, innovation and jobs for our agriculture sector. This is a policy that the Red Deer Chamber of Commerce has been championing for 10 years and a policy that will reduce costly red tape and inefficiencies leaving farmers more time to drive our economy.”

Working with Western Canadian grain farmers, their organizations and provincial partners, the Harper Government is committed to an orderly transition to market freedom which includes a viable, voluntary pooling entity, as part of an open and competitive Canadian grain market.

Additional information can be found at www.agr.gc.ca/freedom.