Gerry Ritz, federal minister of agricultural and agri-food was in Saskatoon Tuesday afternoon to mark what the federal government says is a historic change for farmers in Western Canada.
12 hours before what’s been called, “marketing freedom day,” Ritz explained these changes would enable wheat and barley farmers to sell their product as individuals outside of the Canadian Wheat Board starting Wednesday.
“As we speak, farmers from across the prairies are on the road to Kindersley where tomorrow, we will officially mark the beginning of marketing freedom in Western Canada,” said Ritz, Tuesday.
He explained farmers will now have the freedom to “market their wheat germ and barley as they want, when they want, to whom they want and for the price they desire.”
While there are groups in favor of the change, some farmers are saying future generations will look back and see it as a negative.
“Every company in the world operating in a competitive market wants to get a monopoly, because if they can get a monopoly, they can charge more money,” said Bob Roehle, co-ordinator of Friends of the Wheatboard. “I suspect down the road, a lot of farmers are going to look back and say, ‘why did we let this happen?’”
Roehle, like other supporters of the CWB, say without it, farmers will at the mercy industries like the railways and international grain companies.
Wheat and barley farmers in Western Canada have had to sell their grain through the board since the 1940s.
With files from the Canadian Press