In about a month, the combines will begin rolling across our constituency as our farmers go about the vital business of feeding Canadians and the world. But this year there’s one historic difference. For the first time in 69 years, Western Canadian farmers will have a new freedom that entrepreneurs in other parts of Canada, both on and off the farm, have long enjoyed: the freedom to sell the fruits of their labours to the buyer of their choice.
The doors to marketing freedom opened wide on Aug. 1, when Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced our Government delivered on its long-standing commitment to stand up for the individual rights of farmers. The prime minister and our Conservative caucus was particularly proud to be joined by some of the farmers who were fined or jailed for their belief in the cause of freedom.
The Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act officially ends the seven-decade sales monopoly on wheat and barley in Western Canada. With the start of the new crop year on Aug.1, Prairie farmers can sell their wheat and barley when they want and to whom they want — the same as farmers in Ontario.
Western Canadian farmers will have more buyers than ever competing for their grain — including the CWB, which is offering a number of innovative pooling programs for farmers looking to balance their risks. The Harper government has provided the CWB with the resources needed to be a viable and strong competitor in this new open market. The CWB is open for business, with handling arrangements secured across the west and plans to expand its basket of crops to canola.
Marketing freedom will help rejuvenate the western Canadian wheat industry. Wheat put Canada on the map and marketing freedom will put it back on top. Already, we’re seeing new alliances and synergies spring up throughout the value chain right across North America.
Marketing freedom is more than a western issue. A strong farm economy drives the economic pistons that generate jobs and growth right across Canada. It couldn’t have come at a better time for our farmers. Markets, exports and long-term demand are all on the rise. We celebrate a new crop year and a new era for agriculture.
It’s unfortunate that as our government gives more freedom to western Canadian farmers, members of the NDP and Liberals are already discussing ways in which they can take these rights away through protest and frivolous lawsuits.
Unlike the opposition, we know that marketing freedom will unleash the true economic potential and entrepreneurial energy of the western Canadian grain sector. An open market will attract investment, encourage innovation, create value-added jobs, and build a stronger economy for all Canadians.
Randy Hoback, MP