In its recent long-winded, piece entitled “Leadership after the single desk”, the Western Barley Grower’s Association (WBGA) has produced an amazing hack job, full of inconsistencies and misleading statements.
While claiming they are not “shills” for the industry, their actions have proven they identify with industry more than farmers. Since the WBGA accepts industry sponsorship, it is not surprising they lobby on behalf of industry in areas such as transportation and GMOs. In spite of their loud mouths, court documents filed under oath show they had a membership of only 130 and not all of those were even farmers.
So it is highly improbable that their concept of a national organization would defend farmers like the CWB did, like taking the railways to court because of poor performance. We’ve never seen the WBGA support something like this; nor will we ever.
They state that with the Alberta Barley Commission, they are well en route to a national barley organization that is similar to the ‘successful Canola Council’ model. This is a menacing thought since the Canola Council is a voluntary organization known to take government handouts and support from corporate sponsors, while doing nothing to advocate for true farmer interests. Let’s remember it was the Canola Council that lobbied to give the agri-chemical companies control of the canola genetics which farmers and the Canadian public had paid to develop. Every time a farmer spends several hundred dollars a bushel for private canola seed, they should ask themselves if they want to follow the same path with barley and wheat. There is no doubt that is where the WBGA wants to lead us.
Another cold, hard truth: the WBGA approved of and helped to facilitate the federal government’s thievery of over $200 million of farmer assets when it recently seized control of the CWB, not to mention the loss of the single desk.
They also lobbied the feds to neuter the Canadian Grain Commission and take away services such as bonding and inward inspection which protects the interests of grain farmers from private trade swindles on payments, grading and dockage.
If they truly are farmer advocates, then why have they stood by silently and watched the feds take over $400 million out of Agri stability?
Maybe an even more fundamental question is this: if the WBGA believes only in the market, then why do they even exist? Doesn’t the private market system actually have no room for associations like them? When will there be enough deregulation to satisfy the WBGA? Is their final frontier dog licensing?
Perhaps the WBGA needs to spend less time penning lofty, ludicrous pieces and instead ask themselves that very question!
George E. Hickie