Judging by the quotes in Brian Zinchuk’s article (page 23, Feb. 25 Regional News-Optimist) Premier Scott Moe is re-imagining history in order to appeal to the Indian government. He is denying billions in losses because of the end of the Canadian Wheat Board apparently in hope of increasing Saskatchewan sales to India by a few million.
Proposed changes to marketing laws in India, changes that have Indian farmers protesting by the thousands, will eliminate minimum price guarantees, allow direct verbal contracts with buyers, provide for no default penalties on those contracts, allow for market manipulation by actions such as hoarding, and allow corporations to set up unregulated markets any way they see fit. Zinchuk writes that Moe suggests “that the Indian farmers might not need to be so afraid of what is coming, as Saskatchewan farmers have benefited from open markets.”
Premier Moe’s revisionist history is appalling. In the article he said that the elimination of the CWB “has created tremendous prosperity for our province and literally helped feed the world through massive gains in production.” Wrong on both counts.
With the CWB as our agent it used to take approximately one eighth of the value of a bushel of wheat to get it from my elevator to the hold of a ship (roughly defined as the ‘basis’). Without the CWB the basis now usually takes a full third of the value (very recent increases in demand has dropped the basis to 25 per cent to 27 per cent, still twice as much as it used to be). That’s the opposite of creating prosperity.
Premier Moe also brags about our ag exports hitting $16 billion last year, but the gains in production are clearly from higher yielding varieties and agronomic improvements, not the loss of the CWB. In fact the margins have gotten so slim that we desperately needed those fantastic yield increases to survive as wheat producers at all.
Because of excess basis western wheat farmers have missed out on well over $15 billion since 2012. The value was still created, it just never made it back to farmers. I demand (dare, beg, plead, cajole ... whatever might work) Premier Moe to show just one single reputable economic study that proves that Saskatchewan farmers made even a nickel more because we lost the CWB.
Stand with Indian farmers in their fight for fairness and for the control of their marketing system, and don’t let Premier Moe and his ilk fool you into thinking the loss of our preferred marketing system in 2012 was a net gain for Saskatchewan farmers.