It was the day that many farmers across Western Canada have waited decades for.
The start of the 2012-13 crop year on August 1st marked the end of the Canadian Wheat Board's single desk monopoly on western wheat and barley sales, meaning that farmers had the freedom to sell their grain to the buyer of their choice.
"I think there are a lot of Western Canadian farmers who never thought they would see this day come," said Cypress Hills-Grasslands MP David Anderson, who was a long-time supporter of the change to an open market. "Never thought they'd see the day when they can go out and market their own product and bring it to market. People are excited, farmers are excited, they finally get the same opportunities in grains that they've had in other crops over the years."
Prime Minister Stephen Harper also celebrated the start of the new marketing era with a visit to a farm at Kindersley that day.
"Never, never, never again will Western farmers and ONLY Western farmers who grow their own wheat on their own land be told how to market their product," Harper told an enthusiastic crowd of farmers at the event.
The end of the single desk didn't mean the end of the Wheat Board. The now-voluntary board rebranded themselves as CWB, unveiled a new logo, and announced that farmers can deliver grain for their pooling contracts to any elevator in the west.
Although many farmers celebrated the end of the CWB's monopoly, others fought courtroom battles to try and maintain it. A group of former farmer-elected Wheat Board directors, including Swift Current-area farmer Stewart Wells, won a Federal Court ruling late in 2011 which found Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz broke the law when introducing the changes without a producer plebiscite. That ruling, however, was later overturned by the Federal Court of Appeal. The group announced they will appeal that decision with the Supreme Court of Canada, and it's still unknown when the SCOC hearing will be held.
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