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Alberta premier says he likes bill to allow farmers to opt out of wheat board
The Canadian Press, March 17, 2004
Alberta Premier Ralph Klein predicts a private member's bill that would allow farmers to opt out of the Canadian Wheat Board will likely pass this session and be proclaimed.
Klein joined Agriculture Minister Shirley McClellan on Tuesday in praising Calgary MLA Mark Hlady's initiative.

Hlady's bill would create a 10-year test market in which farmers could sell crops, such as wheat and barley, through the board or on their own. Hlady hopes the plan will resolve a long-standing dispute over which alternative is better for farmers. Many western farmers have protested about the wheat board's monopoly. Some served short jail terms for defying it.

The fact that Ontario farmers can opt out has been seen as a major grievance.

"I'm leaning in favor of supporting that bill,'' Klein said Tuesday.

"The bill, if it is passed and proclaimed and it probably will be, will undoubtedly be challenged if someone tries to take action on it. That will give us the opportunity to at least have the Supreme Court consider ... this situation.''

McClellan said she supports the bill and a farmer's right to choose.

"We've supported it all along,'' she said. "We don't support a monopoly.''

Last week wheat board CEO Adrian Measner suggested the bill could put the board out of business because it couldn't survive in a two-market situation.

Measner said the price of Canadian wheat would quickly fall if opportunistic buyers can play sellers off against one another as they do in the United States.

Klein, McClellan and Hlady say if the board collapses at the first sign of another market, it's hardly worth preserving.
MGR Archive 17.3.2004
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