Canada to allow barley producers choice of marketing

by Ron Sterk
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OTTAWA, ONT. — The Canadian government plans to end the monopoly marketing of barley by the Canadian Wheat Board (C.W.B.) by Aug. 1 based on results of a vote by barley producers.

About 30,000 producers participated in the plebiscite and a majority provided the government with a mandate to move ahead, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada said. Results showed 38% of voters preferred to retain the C.W.B. as the single marketing desk, 48% wanted the option to sell to the C.W.B. or a buyer of their choice, and 14% wanted the C.W.B. to have no role in marketing barley.

"Over 60% of producers want to decide how to market their own product," said Chuck Stahl, Canada’s Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister of the Canadian Wheat Board. "Their decision in favor of marketing choice is clear and we intend to give them that opportunity in the coming crop year."

Mr. Stahl said he would propose amendments to C.W.B. regulations to remove barley from the single desk authority for the 2007-08 crop year. The changes will allow producers to make marketing decisions that are right for their operation, the agency said.

"We will move forward decisively because producers and the sector need clarity and market certainty," Mr. Stahl said. "It is the government’s intention that marketing choice for western Canada’s barley growers — including an option to continue to sell to the Canadian Wheat Board — will be reality by August 1 of this year."

The government said it would continue to guarantee C.W.B. borrowings and initial payments under conditions set out in the Canadian Wheat Board Act. The proposed changes would not alter export credit guarantee programs.

Canada’s Prairie Provinces produced 9.2 million tonnes (about 423 million bus) of barley in 2006.

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