CWB points to differences in wheat acreage debate
Editor: Would wheat acreage in Western Canada really soar if there were an open market for Prairie wheat? The Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association (WCWGA) says so, and points to Ontario as evidence.
In fact, the general upward trend in Ontario’s wheat acreage began decades before the end of Ontario’s single desk for wheat in 2003. If an Ontario farmer chooses to plant wheat, it likely has more to do with the price of corn, the price of fertilizer, and fall planting conditions. The WCWGA compares Ontario’s 2002 harvested wheat acreage to that of 2008 and attributes the increase to an open market. However, seeded acres are obviously a better indication of farmers’ intentions. The last time Ontario farmers sowed wheat in a single-desk environment was the fall of 2002, when they seeded one million acres to wheat. In 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2008, they seeded significantly fewer acres to wheat. Was this also because of the demise of the single desk?
The truth is that fundamentally different market factors make it hard to compare wheat production in Ontario and on the Prairies in any meaningful way. Ontario grows more soft wheat; the Prairies grow more hard wheat. Ontario wheat is sold close to home; Prairie wheat is sold around the world. If the WCWGA is interested in a valid comparison of wheat acreage trends, it should look to the U.S. northern tier states where farmer decisions are motivated by similar market factors. For the past decade, wheat acreage in the northern tier states has moved in unison with wheat acreage in Western Canada. Larry Hill - Chair, CWB board of directors