CWB Loses Barley Referendum

OTTAWA - Mar 28/07 - SNS -- The Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) lost the western Canadian barley marketing referendum, with only 37.8% of growers voting in favor of single desk marketing, according to Agriculture Canada.

A total of 29,067 votes were cast, with 48.4% voting for a dual marketing system under which they can choose to market barley to either the CWB or the open market. Another 13.8% said the CWB should have no role in marketing barley.

Support for single desk marketing was strongest in Manitoba, with 50.6% voting in favor of that option, compared to 45.1% support in Saskatchewan; 42.3% support in B.C. and only 21.4% support in Alberta. Dual marketing was favored by 42.1% of Saskatchewan's barley producers, 34.6% of Manitoban, 63.4% of Albertan and 49.4% of B.C. voters. Opposition to any CWB involvement in barley markets was strongest in Alberta at 15.2%, followed by Manitoba at 14.8%, Saskatchewan at 12.8% and B.C. at 8.3%.

The largest number of votes cast was in Saskatchewan, with 15.327 farmers participating in the referendum for a 52.7% share of total votes cast. Alberta producers were the next largest bloc, with 9,881 votes cast, compared to 3.703 in Manitoba and 156 in B.C.

Dual Marketing Promised

Agriculture Minister Chuck Strahl said the government "will now begin work on the appropriate amendments to Canadian Wheat Board regulations to remove barley from the Canadian Wheat Board's monopoly.

"Their decision in favor of marketing choice is clear and we intend to give them that opportunity in the coming crop year. . . . 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."