By Shaun Haney
With the loss of the single desk looking to be a reality for the Canadian Wheat Board, the next 14 months is going to be very critical. Many bloggers and pundits are focusing more on what is going to happen to the grain industry or what impacts this will have on the farmer but this week my attention has been drawn to another issue.
What will be the strategic focus of the Canadian Wheat Board up until Aug 1, 2012? There are really two key paths fro them to take.
- Try to prevent the elimination of the single desk by attempting to justify the single desk concept and philosophy to Canadians
- Embracing the coming change and form the strategy to enable the CWB to survive in a dual market over the long term.
If the CWB decides to bury it’s head in the sand and try to fight the inevitable, my concern is that the Board will not be properly prepared for the dual market. New competitors like Viterra and Cargill will provide intense competition for grain marketing in the west. The Canadian Wheat Board owes its strongest supporters the opportunity to do business past August 1, 2012. The NFU and its leadership I’m sure will work very hard to keep the CWB distracted by trying to save the single desk over the next 14 months. The CWB needs to resist this urge and make the right strategic decisions for it’s future.
By most expert accounts there is not much that can be done to hold up the Federal Government from making this significant change. This inevitable change needs to be tackled and dealt with head on instead of fighting the change. Change is best handled when its embraced and adjusted to. Change brings opportunity and if the CWB gets to work on the “new normal,” opportunities will become reality and farmers will benefit.
The Ontario wheat industry went through this similar transition in 1997 and the POOL account is still alive today. I do truly hope that 14 years from now the CWB is still a major segment of the Western Canadian wheat marketing trade. I strongly believe that the probability of its long term survival and success is very dependent on the strategy that is laid out over the next 14 months by the CWB Board of Directors.