What is in this article?:
- Aug. 1 marked marketing freedom day for global wheat industry
- Still some problem areas
• For the moment, the monopoly dinosaurs have died out for the major commodities.
•That is even more important for wheat, which represents the largest volume, fully one third, of the world’s annual grain trade.
State wheat producer organizations in the United States formed Western Wheat Associates and Great Plains Wheat in the 1950s and merged these organizations in 1980 as U.S. Wheat Associates.
During all those years and decades, USW has worked to promote U.S. wheat to our customers in the face of several competing organizations that had monopoly control over their countries' wheat supplies and prices.
It has been frustrating to watch markets we built with our customers over many years be taken away just because a monopoly exploited its ability to price wheat at whatever it took to buy market share, bury the discounts in its price pools and tell its farmers what a great job it was doing on their behalf.
Yet, we watched Argentina dismantle its wheat board and South Africa end all its commodity control boards, including for wheat, in the 1990s.
The Australian Wheat Board finally lost its monopoly over export sales in 2008 after former AWB executives were caught paying hundreds of millions of dollars in kickbacks to Saddam Hussein's regime to control the Iraq wheat market — a sordid affair in which USW was among the first to publically call for an inquiry.
Then, on Aug. 1, 2012, the last of the old monopolies died when the “Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act” took effect in Canada. The Canadian Wheat Board, though renamed and recast as a private grain merchandising company, still gets government loans and support, but that, too, is scheduled to end in no more than five years.