WINNIPEG, MANITOBA, CANADA — Results of the Canadian Wheat Board’s (CWB) plebiscite, released Sept. 12, show a majority of farmers want to maintain the single-desk marketing system.

Sixty-two percent of respondents voted in favor of retaining the single desk for wheat and 51% voted to retain it for barley. A total of 38,261 farmers submitted mail-in ballots in the plebiscite, a participation rate of 56% — on par with the last three federal elections and higher than many municipal and provincial elections, CWB said.

"Farmers have spoken. Their message is loud and clear, and the government must listen," said Allen Oberg, chair of the CWB's farmer-controlled board of directors. "Western Canadian producers have voted to keep their single-desk marketing system for wheat and barley. They cannot be ignored.

"We will not sit back and watch this government steamroll over farmers. We are going to stand our ground and fight for farmers."

The federal government plans to remove the CWB single desk by Aug.1, 2012. Minister Gerry Ritz has announced that enabling legislation will be introduced this fall, also removing the current legal requirement that such a change first be approved by Prairie farmers through an official plebiscite. The CWB's plebiscite was conducted to give producers a voice through a fair and democratic process, CWB said.

Oberg said the plebiscite results show that the federal government is out of touch with farmers.

"For months, Minister Ritz has been claiming that the recent federal election was a mandate for the government to dismantle the CWB,” he said. “Now we know otherwise. There is no mandate from farmers to strip away their marketing power."

Oberg said the CWB's board of directors is calling on the government of Canada to respect the decision of farmers. He said the high participation rate leaves no doubt about what farmers want.

"The number of producers who voted shows that they are passionate about the CWB and demand a say in its future. As farmers, the CWB is our marketing organization,” he said. “We pay for it, we run it, we have the right to decide its future. The government must now acknowledge this mandate from farmers and respect this decision."