Change costs less than doing nothing

Critics of the CWB have recently circulated a simplistic comparison between its administrative costs in 1997-98 and 2008-09. Not only do these comparisons ignore the impact of inflation, they fail to recognize all the new initiatives, programs and processes that have been instituted over the past 12 years.

Since the CWB’s board of directors assumed control in 1998, the CWB has been radically transformed. Instead of offering only price pooling and Series delivery contracts, directors immediately asked that a range of flexible pricing, payment and delivery programs be instituted in response to farmers’ needs. We called for new accountability and performance-review measures, fresh planning and strategic models, revised risk-management approaches, streamlined business processes and clear communication with farmers.

All this activity necessarily costs more money (on one side of the ledger) than would an unresponsive, monolithic business model. But it leads to net benefits like enhanced competitiveness and long-term cost efficiencies on the other side of the balance sheet. The result is a vibrant organization that serves farmers better and responds to their needs.

Change is not free, but it is necessary for any responsive and responsible corporation and – in the long run – costs much less than doing nothing. It’s easy enough to grab a calculator, compare numbers and assume the worst. As business people ourselves, Prairie farmers realize it’s never that simple.

Bill Nicholson

CWB District 9 elected director

Shoal Lake, MB

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