It is absolutely shameful. From a low of $13.72 per ton on feed barley in the five year reporting period to a high of $47.57 per ton on durum, this would have had a tremendous impact on my farmers. That is not money they can get back. That is money that has been taken away from them.
What we can do now is look forward and ensure that they do not have that money taken out of their pockets any longer. That is what we are talking about today.
The other thing I would like to briefly touch on is Westlock Terminals. I am very proud of this new generation co-op that is in my riding. This is a co-operative of community members who have come together and taken on this terminal. They are doing a wonderful job in ensuring it is profitable and is servicing our farmers well.
I have sat down with them on several occasions, and they had some concerns when we first started down this road. They heard that we were going to end the monopoly. They definitely had some concerns because the other side was ramping up the fear campaign. They were already calling them and telling them that the world was going to end for them.
As the minister has said, and I believe the terminal now realizes, “The sky is not falling”. The sky is actually the limit for our farmers moving forward, and for Westlock Terminals and other co-ops like that.
This is a time, moving forward, when we are going to have innovation and ingenuity on the Prairies. This is a region of the country that has been the economic engine in the country for the last decade. The one area that continually lapses behind has been on the agricultural front, particularly when it comes to wheat and barley. In my opinion, it lags behind because of the monopoly, and the Informa report clearly shows that.
As I rise in this chamber to speak on marketing freedom, it will shock many who are not familiar with this issue to know that in our great country we have had two distinct classes of grain framers: those who live under the oppression of the Canadian Wheat Board and are not allowed to produce and sell their own wheat and barley; and the rest of Canada that has complete marketing freedom, the freedom to maximize their profits and sell their property as they see fit.
As we go through this vigorous debate over the next couple of months, time and time again we will see urban members of Parliament, oftentimes representing people who do not fall under the tyranny of the Wheat Board, standing and arguing for the status quo.
Let us be clear. These members are arguing for a two-tiered system. They are arguing for a system, so that my family in Alberta should not be able to sell its own wheat and barley crops as it sees fit. However, my family members in Ontario and other parts of the country have that freedom. It is absolutely two distinct classes.
It is past time that we take the shackles off of western Canadian farmers. The status quo simply is not working. We need to allow farmers to farm the marketplace and not rely on the benevolence of government or its organizations. We have the best and brightest producers in the world.
This brings me to the Bauer family in Thorhild, Alberta. This is a young family with two young daughters. They earn their living on grain and oil seed production.
At the beginning of every year, and this should be particularly interesting for some of our colleagues who are not familiar with agriculture, they put $400,000, $500,000 worth of inputs into the ground. That is the cost of a very nice home right here in Ottawa and across our country.
Each year they take that risk capital and put it into the ground. They pray for some spring rain. They hope that they can get the proper sun amounts throughout the year. During the summer, they honestly just hope they do not get hailed out. As their crop starts to come up, they have to put more fertilizer and more pesticides. They have to ensure the grasshoppers will not get it.
In the fall, in September, October, while everything looks good and they have their entire life savings out on the fields, they have to hope for the good graces of God to get enough good days before the heavy frost and the snow to get their crops off the field.
When they have done all of this, worked countless days and sleepless nights, they have to accept a lower price on their commodity, on their crop, because they live in western Canada, and that is simply not acceptable.
The Bauer family should have the same right as their cousins in Ontario to maximum their rate of return so that they do not have to rely on the government, so that they can put money away for their children's education, and for the new renovations to their home. That is what we are talking about here today.
When we talk about younger farmers and trying to get younger farmers into farming, this is a big hurdle. They are very intelligent. They look at the business model and say, “Why on earth would I want to get into something where the government restricts what my profit can be?” Sometimes $450 million to $628 million a year is a lot of money to be taken out of an economy in the designated areas.
What have they done? They have turned to other crops. Quite frankly, they have turned to canola and many other options, so that they do not have the shackles holding them back.
This has been positive for the last several years in western Canada. Canola has been a good crop, but when we are talking about feeding the world and making sure, as the opposition likes to do, that people in Africa and people around the world, who are starving, have enough food and relying on Canadian exports, we cannot feed them with canola. We need to send them our grains and oil seeds that they can utilize.
It is projected that in 2020 there will be seven billion people in the world. That is up from about 6.2 billion people today. That is an 800 million person increase over the next eight years.
The good news is that when my grandfather was farming his quarter section of land up in Fort Assiniboine 40 or 50 years ago, he could only feed five, ten people off his farm. Really, individuals can feed their family and a little bit more to trade off and get some other stuff.
Now, the Bauer family can feed 120 to 150 people off of their farm. The ingenuity in Canadian agriculture over the last 50 years has been amazing. The product increase has been amazing. The problem that we have in meeting the world demand is simply the fact that these guys are not willing to take a loss or not maximize their profit, so they are not dealing with board products as often as they used to, which affects the amount of global export that we give to other countries.
Those are just a couple of the issues for young farmers taking on farming in the future, especially with the Canadian Wheat Board. Hon. members need not take my word for it. They can actually look at the Canadian Wheat Board's 2011 producer survey that found 76% of younger generation farmers surveyed by the Wheat Board itself want something other than the status quo monopoly.
This is an amazing figure. This is not a figure that the Conservative Party came up with. This is a figure from the Wheat Board itself.
Another issue I would like to address is innovation in agriculture and the business model. It is important to make clear to those who may not understand how agriculture works that farmers themselves are businesses.
Gregg Adair and his family farm 3,000 or 4,000 acres. I was actually out in their fields this year. I hope everything continued to go well. When I spoke with Gregg, he said, “You know, Brian, I know exactly how much inputs I have, right to the acre; I know exactly how much I need to get in return for my product; and I know exactly how much loss I'm able to take”.
However, what he cannot calculate is what he is going to get out of the Wheat Board at the end of the day because what he does know is that he is not going to get the price he should get. He is going to take a lesser value on any wheat and barley that needs to go through the Canadian Wheat Board.
He also, because of the Wheat Board's restrictions on seed, does not have the ability to even utilize some of the Canadian seed and genetics that we have produced in our own country. The Wheat Board does not allow him to do that. Is that not amazing? The Wheat Board actually restricts Canadian technology. Who is using it instead of the Adair family in Westlock? Farmers in the United States are benefiting from of our research and development.
These are just some of the many issues that we experience in western Canada. The fundamental difference here is these are not things that are encountered in the rest of the country. It is not fair for us to have two totally different classes of grain farmers.
In conclusion, I would just like to say that farm families across the Prairies are watching us today. They are hoping and praying that their government will stand up for them and fulfill the promise that we had made to provide them with marketing freedom. My farmers are not asking for special treatment. They are not asking for something that the rest of the country does not already have. They are simply asking to be treated as an equal with their cousins in Ontario and the rest of Canada.
Marketing freedom is a first but very important step in maintaining and encouraging young farmers to enter and stay in our agriculture sector.
This is not an issue of left or right. This is not an issue of blue or orange. This is an issue of equality and fairness. It is an issue of right and wrong.
I ask all members of Parliament when the time comes to please seriously consider their vote on this, to consider what their vote will do to western Canadian farmers. I ask all members to support our farmers and our farm families on the Prairies. Thanks and God bless.