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Published February 10, 2014, 09:44 AM

Describing the old Canadian Wheat Board

The old Canadian Wheat Board was alternately called a monopoly and, less commonly, a monopsony.

By: Jonathan Knutson, Agweek

The old Canadian Wheat Board was alternately called a monopoly and, less commonly, a monopsony. It sometimes was known as a “single desk,” too.

Monopoly refers to having complete ownership or control of something. Monopsony refers to the market condition that exists when there’s only one buyer.

The CWB, for much of its history, was the sole buyer and seller (“the single desk”) of Canadian prairie wheat and barley destined for export from Canada or for human consumption in Canada.

But other companies and organizations around the world sold and controlled grain, too. That caused many in agriculture to prefer monopsony or single desk over monopoly in describing the CWB.

Now, the organization is being privatized and generally is referred to by its initials.

Learning more

CWB’s ongoing privatization will continue to generate questions in both Canada and the U.S. A group of Canadian and U.S. nonprofit and trade organizations created a website to provide answers.

The site, canada-usgrainand-seedtrade.info, has a list of frequently asked questions and industry news. It also contains sections designed specifically for U.S. farmers, Canadian farmers, commercial interests and the international seed trade.

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