Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that the member's obsession with this issue is beginning to damage his own credibility. It is unfortunate to hear him having to resort to personal attacks. I guess we are used to it now, but it is kind of a sorry spectacle to see.
Actually he just started talking about the Algeria issue, and I would like to talk about that a bit because it is an important thing. I am glad he brought it up because I want to move into that. What he is referring to is the fact that the main grain buyer for the Algerian grain buying agency talked about the special deal that it gets from Canada.
I am going to quote from the original article tonight in order to point out that what I said in answer to his question should be of great concern to western Canadian farmers. Mr. Mohamed Kacem, the main grain buyer for the Algerian government, stated in this article that Algeria gains in a lot of ways from this longstanding trust-based relationship. It is the Government of Canada that provides Algeria with “guarantees...since it carries out” the product controls, he said, highlighting the fact that the selling price to Algeria is “carefully studied” because it is a “preferential” price for Algeria.
I am sure western Canadian farmers would like to know what that really means. The article explains that this special price saves Algeria “tens of dollars” on every tonne purchased. As far as controls are concerned, Algeria saves “over one dollar per tonne processed” as well.
We are told that on average Canada sells Algeria about 400,000 to 500,000 tonnes of wheat per year. That is around 18 million bushels. If the article is accurate in what it is saying about “tens of dollars per tonne”, and if it is at around three and half, tens of dollars per tonne would work out to about a dollar per bushel. If it is 18 million bushels, we are looking at $18 million that western Canadian farmers have lost, just on these sales to Algeria.
I think there needs to be some investigation of this issue because clearly, as he says, Algeria is getting a special deal from Canada, and western Canadian farmers do not know what that special deal is.
It is interesting as well that western Canadian farmers are clearly indicating to us that they want choice. This Algerian example is one reason why they would be demonstrating that they want choice.
There are also a couple of other illustrations that we could use to demonstrate why this issue is important to western Canadian farmers. Right now malt barley is actually at a discount to feed barley in western Canada. Feed barley, of course, goes into the livestock industry, but farmers grow malt barley because it is a premium product. Farmers virtually always get a premium to feed barley, but unfortunately malt barley is sold by the board while feed barley can be sold by the board or on the open market. Feed barley right now is actually at a premium to malt barley.
Malt barley is being sold by the board right now. The final estimated price for the producers means that they are going to get about a dollar a bushel less than producers in the United States are getting for the same grain. People wonder why western Canadian producers want choice. That is one of the reasons. They can look at the price now. One of the grain companies is posting a daily international price. The Winnipeg Commodity Exchange is posting a daily international price. Farmers can go to those websites and take a look at what they could be getting if they were able to sell their own grain.
Right now the indication is that they would be able to get a dollar a bushel more for their barley than what the Wheat Board is estimating that it will be able to pay for the rest of this year.