I went to the Wheat Board, as I have done in many organizations in my career, to contribute, to make a difference, and to try to move agriculture forward. I'd always heard about the single desk premiums. I was a little skeptical, because these should translate into profitability on the farm; the crop should be more profitable, or at least profitable in some years. I could never peg anything down on the farm. When I got to the Wheat Board, I looked at a lot of numbers. I was shown a lot of numbers and shown various studies.
I have to relate to you the following, from the February 11 or February 18 issue of The Western Producer, by Mr. Andrew Schmitz. Andrew Schmitz had just completed a barley study for the Canadian Wheat Board and presented it to the board of directors. It said $100 million for barley. A week or two weeks later, he was quoted in The Western Producer saying that the studies often favoured the position of the party paying for the study. I thought that was interesting and something to consider. This guy had just finished the study for the Canadian Wheat Board and said that the studies favoured the party paying for them. Look at who paid for the studies, first of all.
From the information that I saw directly, I could never put my finger on net farm returns. Sure, there was talk about premiums and sales price advantages, but when you subtracted the costs that were imposed on the system—costs imposed on farmers by the lack of flexibility in planning their businesses—I didn't see a net benefit. That's my honest opinion of what I saw there.
In 2007-08, under discretionary trading, the Wheat Board lost something like $220 million. It lost an additional $90 million on its risk management of PPO contracts. I don't know if you take that off the supposed premium in addition to the administration costs and so on. Add up the picture. To me, when I added it all up, I found that this industry, with this kind of debate going on over the top of it all the time, does not add value and it was time to move on.