Saturday, December 23, 2006

Saturday morning random rumours

This morning is all about grain. Well, sort of. Wheat, rye, grain, whiskey.

The Whiskey Bar is open again (it's actually been open for a few days and I've been hoarding a stool) and Billmon gives us a take on this quote from Condoleeza Rice:

This is a country that is worth the investment because once it emerges as a country that is a stabilizing factor, you'll have a very different kind of Middle East. And I know that from the point of view of not just monetary costs, but the sacrifice of American lives, a lot has been sacrificed for Iraq, a lot has been invested in Iraq.
As Billmon says:

Maybe Condi is just a cold, heartless bitch -- as morally numb and sociopathic as her office husband. But these kinds of comments could also simply reflect the incredibly sheltered life Madame Supertanker appears to have led, especially since she entered the pampered, intersecting worlds of the academic, national security and corporate elites.
Be prepared, now that Condi has said it, to expect her drooling, slathering Canadian puppy to repeat something similar with respect to Canadian losses in Afghanistan.

Creekside slices through the Canadian Wheat Board fight, now in progress, and the machinations of agriculture minister Chuck Strahl (who used to be a road builder and truck logger - not a farmer). Alison raises the spectre of Canadian farmers becoming little more than share croppers if Strahl's efforts to get rid of the CWB succeed:

Some farmers will privately get a better price from another grain buyer, say - because they live close to the US border and so their transport costs would be lower than that of more northern farmers.

More farmers will switch to this new buyer.

CWB loses power and folds.

Individual farmers are pitted against each other and the price of wheat falls.

NAFTA says no new CWB can be launched.

Farmers have to sell out to whoever is big enough to survive the price drop, ie agribiz.

Farmers become sharecroppers on what was formerly their own land.

Personally, I think she's being overly optimistic. I see a complete loss of food production. The southern prairie farmers would likely survive while farming in the northern prairies would collapse - very quickly. With it, of course, disappears an $800 million advantage in the Canadian balance of trade.

I have two questions for Strahl:

1. Australia is presently led by a conservative government, (and has been for some time now), yet they are strengthening their single-desk wheat marketing board. You might want to explain why your conservative government is unable to comprehend the level of global strength achieved by offering a global commodity through a single broker. Or is it because you've been hearing from this company, or this one, or this one, or this one?

2. How come your website frontpage and website news does nothing but repeat the Conservative Party talking points and doesn't mention anything about what's going on with the Canadian Wheat Board. Nothing!! Explain that. On second thought, don't. We all know why.

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