BALGONIE, SASKATCHEWAN, CANADA — The Canadian government approved on Dec. 16 the Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act, which ends the Canadian Wheat Board’s (CWB) monopoly over Western Canadian wheat and barley.

Farmers will have the choice starting Aug. 1, 2012, for the delivery of wheat and barley to the CWB or another buyer.

"The Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act repositions the entire grain sector for the future — one that is better able to attract investment and allow farm and industry entrepreneurs to seize new markets, increase sales and drive our economy," said Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. "Today and every day, the Harper Government is standing up for farmers, delivering on our promises and working with industry to make Canada a better place to live and work."

CWB President and Chief Executive Officer Ian White said it has been preparing for the change for months, developing pool and cash programs for farmers for the upcoming crop year. White said details about new 2012-13 programs will be announced soon.

“Amid all the change, one thing remains the same: the CWB will market farmers' grain,” White said. “We will work to achieve the best prices for farmers and superior service for customers in Canada and around the world.”

“The beauty of the CWB now and into the future is that we are here for Prairie farmers. Farmers' success is our success. We will provide ongoing value to farmers by building upon 75 years of marketing experience. By continuing to earn farmer support, the CWB will retain its excellent reputation in the eyes of Canadian and international customers.”

The Canadian government said it is working with the CWB, farmers, the grain value chain and provincial partners, to implement an orderly transition which includes a viable, voluntary CWB, as part of an open and competitive Canadian grain market.

Viterra said it is ready for the changes to the grain sector, and started offering bids on Dec. 16 to western Canadian wheat, durum and barley producers.

“The company is building on its positive relationships with growers by providing new markets for their wheat and barley, as it currently does for oilseeds, pulses, oats and other grains,” said Mayo Schmidt, president and chief executive officer, Viterra. “The government of Canada has fulfilled its commitment to Prairie growers, taking a major step forward for western Canadian agriculture."

Viterra said it anticipates that the industry, farmers, customers and economy will see significant benefits as further transportation and logistical efficiencies are realized in this positive new environment.