Farm­ers need to be wary

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - OPINION -

Edi­tor:

Grain com­pa­nies have never liked the Canadian Grain Com­mis­sion (CGC) with its man­date to “reg­u­late the in­dus­try in the in­ter­ests of pro­duc­ers.” For over 100 years the CGC has had the legal re­spon­si­bil­ity to stop grain com­pa­nies from us­ing faulty weights, grades and in­spec­tions, be­cause all too of­ten these com­pa­nies have de­lib­er­ately tried to cheat farm­ers to make higher prof­its for them­selves. Some things never change.

Over the past cou­ple of decades, the CGC’s abil­ity to do its job for farm­ers has been eroded by gov­ern­ments in­flu­enced by lob­by­ing from the grain com­pa­nies.

The CGC has been most se­ri­ously un­der­mined when gov­ern­ments have ap­pointed Chief Com­mis­sion­ers who pre­vi­ously worked for -- and whose think­ing and val­ues are aligned with – the very grain com­pa­nies they are now tasked with reg­u­lat­ing. Over the past sev­eral months, Agri­cul­ture Canada and the grain com­pa­nies, in con­cert with the cur­rent se­nior staff of the CGC, have been re-writ­ing the Canada Grain Act, mostly be­hind closed doors . Grain com­pany foxes are ad­vis­ing on how to guard the pro­duc­ers’ hen house.

Their pro­posed changes to the Act – a grain com­pany wish list -- will be put in front of the new Min­is­ter of Agri­cul­ture im­me­di­ately af­ter this fall’s fed­eral elec­tion, with the ex­pec­ta­tion it will be quickly passed into law by Par­lia­ment. This wish list will call for the re­peal of the CGC’s man­date to “reg­u­late the in­dus­try in the in­ter­ests of grain pro­duc­ers”. Chang­ing the CGC’s role from polic­ing the in­dus­try, safe­guard­ing the fair­ness, qual­ity and in­tegrity of Canada’s grain sys­tem to in­stead be­com­ing merely an op­tional ser­vice provider to the grain com­pa­nies, would cause huge losses for grain farm­ers. Sidelin­ing the ref­eree would fix the game in favour of the com­pa­nies.

Farm­ers are fight­ing back against the seed com­pa­nies’ ef­forts to force farm­ers to beg (and pay) to save and re-use seed we grow on our own farms. Now farm­ers need to stand up to the grain com­pa­nies’ ef­forts to grab to­tal con­trol of all as­pects of the grain han­dling and mar­ket­ing sys­tem. This elec­tion, farm­ers need to make sure all their fed­eral can­di­dates know that the Canadian Grain Com­mis­sion and its man­date to pro­tect grain farm­ers’ in­ter­ests are es­sen­tial to main­tain­ing a healthy farm­ing sec­tor in Canada.

Ste­wart Wells, Swift Cur­rent

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