|The first and last three paragraphs of
the following letter was published by the Cooperator in my own reply
to CWB candidate Brenda's statements as printed.
October 18, 2004 A.D.
Dear Manitoba Cooperator Editor:
After a lengthy period of silence, I can now write
with hearty enthusiasm and thank the Cooperator for printing CWB
director candidate hopeful, Brenda Tjaden Lepp's letter to the
In addressing hers more forthrightly, allow me
some relevant background. When Brenda Tjaden Lepp, through the
support of industry sponsored papers began trumpeting claims of
being a grain market analyst, in my mind that was simply more of
their vested self-interested business as usual. When the
Farmer's Independent Weekly began running her column as a service to
farmers, I certainly raised an eyebrow. Later, when the Canola
basis surpassed $60 (more than 4 times the legitimate basis costs to
make a delivery) and Brenda joined forces with the head directors of
the Manitoba Canola Growers (Dalgarno and Sirski) and tried to
position herself as someone ahead of the angry farmer crowd and
addressing this serious looting of farmer's incomes, she could still
with an apparent straight face and in defence of the industry claim
"grain companies have legitimate reasons for not wanting to
deliver (FIW February 2004)".
Back in the 90's, while she never once helped me
raise concerns that the privately controlled grain trade was
changing the Winnipeg Commodity rules and removing farmers rights to
make deliveries against the futures, even now, she never really came
to the understanding that this move to shield the trade from honest
competition set up this dysfunctional Canola basis in the first
place. In a letter to the editor I then added politely her
comments were on the money only if hers were "interpreted
euphemistically, knowing such deliveries would lower the basis (and
profits of the grain companies) as (WCE VP Will) Hill so correctly
acknowledged (in the same article).
Now, without detailing the findings of some 12
previous US trade challenges against the CWB or the Kraft study, all
finding that the CWB extracts a premium from the market and does not
discount prairie farmers grain in order to make a sale as Brenda
claims without giving one shred of substantiated proof other than
her own opinion, I will simply point out that Brenda's business
acumen and status of a market analyst may simply be contrasted with
the gap between her own words and deeds.
When she now claims "the world market trades
at a $30 to $60/tonne premium to western Canadian farm-level
returns, EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR" (Manitoba Cooperator letters,
emphasis added) I will simply point out that with annual wheat
production around the 20 million tonne mark (30 to 60 times 20
million), that is a huge pile of cash that the CWB is supposedly
leaving on the table.
What is equally unfathomable, is despite her
blatantly false assessment "no mechanism is in place for
farm-level prices to reflect this", she could quite easily and
with next to no cost to arbitrage the entire 20 million tonnes by
arranging CWB buy backs and pocketing the difference. The
multination grain giants could legally do the same, or simply do so
as accredited sales agents of the board.
Seems to me a lot of kind hearted "so-called
`open market' supporter(s)" (her words and quotes) are either
unwilling to show up the board for justified cause or more likely,
Brenda is simply appealing to the ideologically driven voter, who
regardless of the facts, in contrast to people like Ken Ritter and
Rod Flaman, who with intellectual integrity faced and set aside
their honest but mistaken misconceptions, will stick to their views.
I called Brenda shortly after hers was printed asking for supporting
information, but though she remained a candidate for some two weeks
longer, she never made reply.
I also took occasion to speak with the other two
candidates about her letter. Chuck Fossay found her statement
ludicrous but had no factual understanding on how to correct her.
Bill Toews, to his credit made reference to the Kraft study, but had
little further to add in contradicting Brenda.