Eduard Hiebert

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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 Editor!

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.


Eduard Hiebert

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.


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