Canada's agriculture minister said Wednesday that the country's Conservative government will probably introduce legislation this autumn that will allow the Canadian Wheat Board's marketing monopoly on wheat and barley to be ended in 2012.
Western Canada's grain industry has operated since World War 2 under a monopoly that forces farmers to sell wheat and barley to the board, unlike other crops such as canola.
Farmers who have long urged the government to end the world's last major agricultural monopoly say they want the freedom to find the best possible price, while board supporters say the CWB's clout brings the best returns.
The legislation would take effect in August 2012, the beginning of the 2012-13 crop marketing year, said Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, shortly after Prime Minister Stephen Harper reappointed him to Harper's new cabinet.
"Everyone recognized the complexity of this," Ritz told reporters. "It is going to take a certain amount of work with (industry groups and farmers). All has to dovetail in to make the farm gate stronger."
Ritz said changing the marketing system in August 2012 has the support of industry groups.
The chief executive of Cargill's Canadian subsidiary told Reuters last week that the grain industry should have at least six months' notice of a change, which he said would logically take effect in August 2012.
Ritz reiterated Wednesday the government's support for supply management of Canadian farm industries such as dairy.
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