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The Conservative bid to dramatically change the Canadian Wheat Board may have to wait another few years after farmers elected a roster of directors who largely favour the agency the way it is.

"Four out of the five directors who were elected publicly support single-desk marketing," said Wheat Board chair Allen Oberg, who was himself was re-elected.

"Our numbers tell us that farmers are generally supportive of the organization. I think this election confirmed that."

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Single-desk marketing refers to the Wheat Board's monopoly on selling grain and barley. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has personally pledged to dismantle the barley monopoly in favour of giving farmers more choice in their grains sales. Supporters of that agenda were disappointed by the vote, which saw three directors re-elected and two new faces - Stewart Wells, a former president of the left-leaning National Farmers Union, and John Sandborn, who has served with several Manitoba farmer cooperatives.

"Naturally, I would have liked to see a different outcome," said Jeff Nielsen, a sitting director who has pushed for change at the board. He pointed to the declining western acreage planted with barley and wheat as evidence that farmers are moving to grow crops such as canola that they can sell on the open market.

"Farmers have been voting with their [seed]drills," he said. "We're on a path where we know changes have to happen to the Canadian Wheat Board."

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About the Author
Asia Bureau Chief

Nathan VanderKlippe is the Asia correspondent for The Globe and Mail. He was previously a print and television correspondent in Western Canada based in Calgary, Vancouver and Yellowknife, where he covered the energy industry, aboriginal issues and Canada’s north.He is the recipient of a National Magazine Award and a Best in Business award from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers. More

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