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Conservatives poised to end Wheat Board monopoly

In an interview today, newly re-elected Minister of Agriculture Gerry Ritz discussed the end of the Canadian Wheat Board's monopoloy over wheat sales in the country under a majority Conservative government.

The Canadian Wheat Board is one of the largest agricultural marketing boards in the world, and has exclusive hold over the buying and selling of wheat and barley in Western Canada.

Ritz told Reuters that the Wheat Board could survive the loss of its monopoly and said moving to an open market system could result in more private investment in the grain sector in Western Canada. Ritz also said that he would not hold a vote by farmers to decide if the Wheat Board should keep its monopoly, but farmers would be consulted.

NDP candidate Nettie Wiebe, who lost by 538 votes to Conservative Kelly Block in the "too close to call" riding of Saskatoon Rosetown told the CBC her prediction of the future of the Wheat Board.

"The Conservatives have made no secret of it," Wiebe said. "They want the wheat board gone and I think they will set about it: Destroying the wheat board."

Block told the CBC the Conservatives want farmers to have the choice between marketing grain through the board or on their own.

Colleen Kimmett reports for The Tyee.

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