FW: Farmers demand accountability on Wheat Board

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Cathy Holtslander

Oct 9, 2015, 1:17:26 PM10/9/15
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- A coalition of farmers and other Canadians in support of democracy and a farmer-controlled CWB


Farmers demand accountability on Wheat Board

(Swift Current, Saskatchewan, October 9, 2015)  Four farmer plaintiffs representing western grain farmers and their counsel are now in the process of responding to the Federal Court’s timetable outlining the procedure in the class action launched on behalf of Prairie grain producers following Ottawa’s seizure and dismantling of the farmer-owned Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) in Dec. 2011.  The seizure of the farmer-run CWB was done without the farmer vote enshrined in the law at the time and without a farmer vote promised by Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz during the last Federal election in 2011.

To make matters worse, for the first time in 79 years the Minister of Agriculture decided to withhold the financial results of the CWB for the 2012/13 crop year making it impossible to follow the money as the CWB was transformed from a farmer-run and accountable organization to another foreign-owned and secretive margin trader run by the Harper government.  “Harper and Ritz made specific decisions which negatively impacted farmers, and they must be held accountable for those decisions.” observed Wells.

Anders Bruun, co-counsel for the plaintiffs noted "The CWB Act makes it clear that only the actual costs of the CWB’s operations to sell a crop can be deducted from the money to be paid to farmers for that crop.”

The farmer-plaintiffs expect this process will also bring transparency to the secret process which saw millions of dollars of farmers’ assets, along with an undetermined amount of tax-payer money, transferred to a Saudi Arabian government-operated holding company on the promise of future investments being made in the hard assets owned, purchased, and constructed by the Canadian Wheat Board while it was under the direction of the Minister’s office and his appointees.

“We also expect these revelations will give further context to the just published findings of University of Saskatchewan Agricultural Economist Rich Gray (http://ow.ly/Tdnce) which show that farmers have received $7 Billion less than the fair market value for their grain since the CWB was removed from transportation and logistics oversight.” said Wells.

At least one federal candidate has called for an independent audit of the dismantling of the CWB.  The lack of farmer oversight at the Board table, together with the Minister’s cover-up of CWB finances makes it imperative that the class action move ahead in order to determine what really happened to the money farmers should have earned from their grain sales in 2011/12.  Given the substantial amount of taxpayer money involved we will also be asking the Auditor General of Canada to conduct an investigation” concluded Wells. 

For further information call:                                   Stewart Wells:      (306) 741-7694         
                                                                                       Anders Bruun:      (204) 416-3562

Farmer Plaintiffs:                Harold Bell, Fort St. John, British Columbia     Andrew Dennis, Brookdale, Manitoba                                              
                                                Nathan Macklin, DeBolt, Alberta                                      Ian McCreary, Bladworth, Saskatchewan

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