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Letters – for Apr. 15, 2010

Disastrous economic development

The warning previews are being posted, as John Oliver speaks out on global energy, with food and water shortages on the horizon. (March 25 Manitoba Co-operator story by Daniel Winters.)

We read that more than one billion people go hungry every single day and have little or no clean water to drink, while we in Canada have food and water to waste.

Manitoba and other provinces in Canada focus on using food sources as biofuels, and in that process, vast amounts of water are used.

We also allow our lake waters to be polluted for the benefit of profit by mining companies.

Our governments proclaim their care and protection for water, but their words are meaningless when the demands of industry are voiced to satisfy “their” requirements.

I believe psychiatry sessions would be helpful and in order for our decision-makers and leaders to be reminded that in our relentless pursuit of progress, we are ravaging the finite resources of our planet. Some will call this necessary for “economic development.” In reality, it is nothing less than “economic disaster.” John Fefchak Virden, Man.

Landlords Should Have A Say In CWB Elections

David Anderson, Conservative MP for Cypress Hills-Grasslands, has made a career out of attacking the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB), and his letter in the March 18, 2010 Manitoba Co-operator carries on this tradition.

The latest move is to try to manipulate the eligibility criteria for director elections and suppress the number of producers that actually cast ballots.

Anderson’s logic for suppressing voters is faulty for the following reasons:

The CWB Act and Regulations say that all “producers” that hold a permit book are eligible to automatically receive voting packages. The term “producer” is defined in the Act and Regulations and includes those parties like landlords that have a legitimate interest in a portion of the grain produced.

It is appropriate for landlords to have a say in how their grain is marketed. In Western Canada many of these landlords are the retired or scaled-back farmers that depend on the income from the grain produced on their land to maintain their standard of living.

Landlord producers and actual producers who sell grain through the CWB are both paying for the CWB elections. Anderson’s proposal would have the effect of forcing people (many of them retired farmers) to pay for an election process in which they cannot vote. This takes us back to “taxation without representation” and is fundamentally undemocratic.

Anderson would like you to ignore your own democratic rights and let the government take control of the world’s largest wheat and barley marketer away from the farmers. The Friends of the CWB was formed by a group of like-minded farmers who understand the value of controlling the world’s largest marketer of wheat and barley, and we are determined that producers in Western Canada should control the CWB – not politicians working from their offices in Ottawa. We currently have a legal action in play at the appeal level concerning the voter eligibility issue.

Stewart Wells Swift Current, Sask.

MCEC Tainted By Patronage

An interesting study relating to the 1,500 provincial patonage appointments made in our province was just conducted by Karen Busby, who is a law professor at the University of Manitoba.

This just-released study revealed that the Province of Manitoba – perhaps not surprisingly – stands alone amongst all provinces when it comes to lack of accountability and transparency in the appointment – or is annointment a better word – process.

This report goes on to state that our government is unique by the fact that it makes it almost impossible to find out what positions are open, the qualifications for the position, the job description, remuneration or what the selection process is.

Other provinces have reformed this patronage process so that, even if it still bears the stench of unmitigated patronage, at least it is merit based, open and accountable.

The provincially created Manitoba Cattle Enhancement Council (MCEC) would be a prime example of patronage appointments gone wild. Here, we have a case where a council is mandated to try and enhance the marketing opportunities for livestock in this province.

One would think that this committee would be made up, in large part, by full-time ranchers and also those with some experience and knowledge of marketing and the slaughter business. However, while being protected by the secrecy and security of behind-closed-door appointments, this council that is supposed to be dedicated to the promotion of the cattle industry, has been blessed with the presence of Bill Uruski, past chair, and by Barry Todd, current chair, not to mention Kate Butler receiving the CEO plum.

A turkey farmer, and a professional politician who once knew someone who had a cow, both being led by a lawyer, does not lend an air of confidence and credibility to a cattleman about the capabilities of the Manitoba Cattle Enhancement Council… blatant, mindless patronage at its very worst!

Brian Sterling Tilston, Man.

Which Predators Need Controlling?

The Manitoba Cattle Producers Association has worked hard to convince the government to enact a bounty on coyotes. We run a cow-calf operation and have had some problems, mostly with a fall calving group of cows.

Last year, we lost one of each of two sets of twins. We try to monitor the herd a little more often, mostly early mornings when the coyotes do a lot of their hunting.

We have also put two donkeys with the herd and this has gone a long way towards solving the problem.

We farm along the American border and our neighbours there have periodically received permission to hunt coyotes by air. One year, they destroyed 13 within a two-square-mile area. Within less than a year, the numbers were up again. Nature will eventually partially control the situation with mange outbreaks, etc.

The positive side to coyotes is the gopher control they provide. I watched one early morning as three adult coyotes were hunting gopher in one of our pastures.

Within half an hour they had killed a half a dozen gophers. I wonder how many gophers a pair of coyotes will eliminate in a season.

Maybe we as cow-calf producers should be more concerned about another predator. I am talking about the two-legged ones, the ones in the good suits and fancy cowboy hats. They have managed to integrate the slaughter and feedlot business to the point that they are in a good position to manipulate demand and prices to a large extent.

What is next, the cow-calf business? Are we to follow in the footsteps of a lot of independent hog producers who have become captives of large, integrated feed companies and are no longer in control of their own facilities?

Henry Martens Cartwright, Man.

Potato-Marketing Investigation Needed

I would like to reply to Gary Sloik’s Feb. 25 article in the Manitoba Co-operator. I used to be a red potato grower from Peak and a board member for Peak of the Market for five years. I’m not sure if Gary is missing the key issue or if he is purposely trying to move the focus away from the real problem – Peak of the Market’s use of government regulations to eliminate small potato growers in Manitoba.

We all know that consolidation is taking place. However, all market boards have public annual meetings that allow the public to follow the industry. The exception is Peak of the Market’s annual meetings, which are closed to the public and farm media.

Gary also made reference to small potato growers being inefficient. If this were true, why is Peak placing so many restrictions on the small potato grower? Why are small potato growers saying that Peak is forcing them out of business? Effective March 31, small potato growers will be forced to sell potatoes in bulk (i. e. cannot provide customers with bagged potatoes.) They have to apply to Peak for a permit and who they sell to has to also apply to Peak for a permit.

We asked Peak for over 20 years for more quota, but Peak simply allowed certain growers to expand – the Big Three as they are known in the industry – with substantial overquota delivery opportunities instead. The Manitoba government still has not investigated the unfairness of how unfairly Peak allocated deliveries.

The consumers of Manitoba have to ask their MLA’s why Peak has been granted monopoly control, even over what Gary calls small, inefficient growers, which are our local market gardeners.

Also, with the exception of dairy, all other marketing boards have small grower exemptions, not the tightly administered exemptions that Peak just introduced.

It is doubtful the potato-processing industry would consolidate to only 13 growers to supply product, especially with three of the 13 supplying more than half of the processing industry market. Yet Peak’s board and the Manitoba government have allowed this to occur to the consumers in Manitoba for red table potatoes.

So with only 13 red table potato growers left in Peak, I’d like to ask Gary Sloik if Peak should have the authority to also regulate small growers, while these growers cannot vote for Peak’s board or attend their annual meetings. In addition, should the Manitoba government allow further consolidation through Peak’s control over the table potato market in Manitoba to a few growers?

Maybe it is time for the public inquiry that Laura Rance suggested in her editorial. Really, should a marketing board exist for 13 growers? 10 growers? Eight growers? Five growers? Three growers? Barry Dutka Selkirk, Man.

Cattle Crisis Calls Out For Compensation

When BSE came (in 2003), cattle prices dropped threefold to rock bottom prices. I took a big loss when I needed operating capital for my mixed farming operation. I was in a very stressful situation because I did not have an operating loan from any financial bank system, because one should not have to have an operating loan to run a farming operation.

So then I could not sell any cattle to get money. I became very unhealthy and stressed out telling businesses I did not have any money because of the BSE crisis. The governments, both federal and provincial, did not compensate livestock owners for their losses.

I want them to still compensate all livestock owners, because many types of livestock sold for as low as one cent per pound, whereas the going price for beef was $1.15 per pound before the BSE crisis came. Farmers must be compensated for their losses. I am asking all livestock owners to telephone, write letters like this to their MLAs, Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan, and the federal and provincial governments to get concrete action to pay compensation on losses incurred due to the BSE crisis.

Greg Hemming Esterhazy, Sask.

Please forward letters to Manitoba Co-operator, 1666 Dublin Ave., Winnipeg, R3H 0H1 or Fax: 204-954-1422 or email: [email protected](subject: To the editor)

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