Wheat Board Accused of Costing Farmers Millions in Lost Revenue

Media Appearances, Marketing Boards, Rolf Penner

A report from a conservative think-tank says the Canadian Wheat Board's single desk marketing system is costing prairie farmers hundreds of millions of dollars a year in lost revenue.

The Frontier Centre for Public Policy report, which was written by Manitoba farmer Rolf Penner, is based on a comparison of spot prices for high protein spring wheat at a North Dakota elevator on one specific day with the CWB's fixed price contract and pool return outlook.

His numbers indicate that the selling price at the Alton Grain Terminal in Bottineau, N.D., July 14 was $6.10 Cdn a bushel.

Meanwhile, for a farmer in Boissevain, Man., the fixed price contract was priced at $5.10 a bu. while the PRO was $4.22.

"The price comparison shows that the CWB does not extract premiums from the marketplace," said Penner. "In fact the opposite is true."

He said allowing grain companies to buy and sell wheat in an open market would "dramatically raise the prices" farmers are now receiving under the single desk system.

Deanna Allen, the board's vice-president of farmer relations and public affairs, dismissed the report as "shoddy analysis" that manipulates figures to support a certain political viewpoint.

"Anybody who looks at it closely and knows what they're looking at will dismiss it out of hand."

Allen said Penner's comparison is meaningless because it compares a single day's spot price with a pooled price that includes returns for the entire year. The fixed price contract has a pooled component, while the PRO is a pooled price.