WINNIPEG, MANITOBA, CANADA — The fate of the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) following federal government changes will be the focus of six producer meetings to be held across the prairies in August.

"As farmers, we are at the 11th hour and facing a monumental change," said CWB board chair Allen Oberg, who farms near Forestburg, Alberta, Canada. "In a matter of weeks, the government intends to introduce legislation that will permanently remove the single-desk marketing structure for wheat and barley. As elected directors of the CWB, we have a duty to ensure that our stakeholders — the farmers of Western Canada — are as fully informed as possible, so we can all face the future with eyes wide open."

Oberg said the fate of a multi-billion dollar organization, specifically designed to benefit producers, is being unilaterally decided by government with no analysis of the impacts and no vision for how farmers will be served in its absence. The government has done nothing to inform producers about the implications, nor even give them a say in whether the CWB single desk should be removed at all, he said.

"Farmers need to understand that, once this change is made, the CWB will be gone forever. We have been presented with no public policy rationale, no economic impact studies, no serious analysis of what this will mean for farmers," he said.

Oberg said the meetings are designed to bring farmers together with other concerned Canadians and their CWB directors for a frank and open discussion. The first meeting will be held in Regina on Aug. 8.

"We want to clarify exactly what is going on and discuss the implications for the future," he said. "We also want to answer farmers' questions. We know there are many questions, given the misinformation circulating about what will or won't happen if the single desk is removed."