The Canadian federal government is planning to scrap the legal monopoly operated by Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) for grains grown in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and parts of British Columbia. 

The legal requirement that farmers in these provinces sell wheat and barley to the CWB would disappear on 1 August next year.

"Opening up the market will attract investment, encourage innovation, create value-added jobs and build a stronger economy," said Canadian agriculture minister Gerry Ritz.

Wheat is Canada's biggest crop and agricultural export, with the US, Iran, Indonesia, Japan and Saudi Arabia all major importers. The CWB markets about 21m tonnes of wheat annually, with 2009-2010 revenue C$5.2bn (US$5.5bn). 

The CWB opposes liberalisation arguing it could decrease farm incomes and risk quality. It plans a farmers' poll.

CWB chair Allen Oberg questioned whether an alternative system "could possibly offer farmers anything like the value they currently get".