Peace region’s CWB director quits

Saying he can’t continue to work on a “dysfunctional” board, the farmer-elected director for northwestern Alberta and northeastern B.C. on the Canadian Wheat Board has left the table.

Henry Vos, who farms at Fairview in Alberta’s Peace River region and has represented District 1 on the CWB board since 2006, resigned his post today in a letter to board chairman Allen Oberg.

In that letter, “I expressed my deep regret in coming to the realization that I can no longer serve my constituents and western Canadian grain farmers in general from within the organization,” Vos said Wednesday in an open letter to producers.

Vos is well known as a supporter of reform of the CWB’s marketing system for Prairie wheat and barley, and reiterated Wednesday that he sought the post “because I wanted to bring about change for the benefit of farmers. I fully understood the CWB’s mandate and tried to improve its programs and services to farmers under that mandate.”

Vos, who was re-elected to the board in 2010, said he “saw the decisions of many directors driven by hard-line ideology rather than business acumen. When those directors continually used pool account money to justify and support their views for a single desk, I found this ‘ideological bullying’ unacceptable.”

He also ripped the CWB’s decision Wednesday to launch a legal challenge of the federal Bill C-18, legislation that’s expected to deregulate the CWB’s single marketing desk for August 2012 and either privatize or wind down the board by August 2017.

To file in court “when it is clear to everyone that it will not change the outcome and would not change the timing of the government action, is simply wrong,” Vos wrote.

Vos, in his open letter, also alleged that a CWB director had been suspended for “simply expressing his opinion about (the CWB’s) August ‘information meeting'” and that the board of directors had allowed a motion on the table to change the bylaw that now requires a two-thirds majority to remove a CWB director from the board.

“Disservice”

“Such decisions and other discussions that have taken place around the CWB table are not about doing what is best for commercial farmers,” Vos wrote.

“To continue to work within the existing dysfunctional CWB board would be a disservice to those who voted… for me as their director.”

Vos said he plans to continue to support the federal government’s deregulation efforts and those of other groups backing CWB reform.

“Protecting the single desk ‘at all costs’ is in my view destroying future opportunities, harming the reputation of the farmers, demoralizing staff and creating uncertainty with customers and the industry, all of which will cost farmers money.”

Vos, who has an ag degree from the University of Alberta, came to the CWB with a resume long on experience with other crop commodity-related boards such as the Alberta Agricultural Research Institute, Winnipeg Commodity Exchange, Alberta Canola Producers Commission and the Alberta branch of the Canadian Seed Growers Association.

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