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Letters – for Dec. 2, 2010

The November 18 issue was very interesting reading and has prompted me to write to compliment Laura Rance for her excellent editorial on the changes in the Animal Care Act and the increased authority for provincial animal-welfare officers.

I also have to say that the two letters to the editor regarding dogs riding in the back of trucks were dead-on; the original comments that prompted these letters may go towards explaining any kind of disconnect between urban and rural residents.

And that is the perfect segue into the disconnect between pork producers and the changing attitudes of the consumer. Not all people who want a change in standards or accepted practices belong to any type of formal group. They just change their purchasing habits without any type of fanfare.

Witness the story, also in this issue, regarding Coles Supermarkets in Australia. Coles is one of Australia’s two largest grocery chains, and in support of local producers, has made the decision not to accept any pork products from sows raised in stalls. Bravo!

Stalls are being phased out in the European Union by 2012. Australia’s date is 2014. Various U.S. states are changing as a result of public referendums. And here in Manitoba, well – resistance.

How long before other countries that buy Manitoba pork follow suit to support their own producers?

I realize that change is hard, but perhaps being pushed into it to stay in business will make it easier to consider. I agree that there will definitely be a financial cost, but as the old saying goes, it takes money to make money.

Invest in the alternative-housing methods and keep your markets both local and abroad. Manitoba Egg Farmers have made changes (enriched cages) and so have dairy farmers (pain relief provided for dehorning and caustic debudding) – former accepted standard practices that no longer are accepted by the purchasing public. The issue of housing for sows isn’t going to go away.

Leslie Yeoman The Humane Education Network, 106 Lipton Street,

Winnipeg, Man.

CWB Supports Valueadded Processing

Value-added processing on the Prairies is a worthwhile goal that the CWB supports and encourages, contrary to an opinion quoted in a recentManitoba Co-operatorarticle on the sale of Delmar Commodities Nov. 18.

There are 19 wheat flour mills and five durum mills located in Western Canada, making up 48 per cent of all Canadian flour mills and 37 per cent of our country’s milling capacity. Growth in this value-added sector has been impressive, with five new mills over the past 10 years. A feasibility study for a flour mill at Somerset, Man., has never been shared with the CWB.

However, the economics of value-added processing are entirely driven by consumer demand, not by the amount of available raw material (e. g. grain) or its marketing structure. In addition to demand, decisions on investment in and location of flour mills are heavily based on factors like proximity to end-users (transportation costs) and raw-material acquisition prices.

With regards to acquisition price, the CWB works for farmers as the suppliers of the raw material. Our role is not to facilitate a lower-cost grain supply – which is precisely what some potential Prairie processors have requested in the past. The CWB does not serve farmers by offering preferential (lower) prices to a select group at the expense of all other farmers.

However, when farmers themselves have a stake in the processing plant as owners, the CWB has created a New Generation Co-operative program that enables farmers to participate in a cooperative venture, such as flour mill, and capture a pooled return specific to the North American price. The program also connects farmers with processor-direct delivery opportunities.

The CWB is also dedicated to increasing demand for wheat-based products among consumers. We have been engaged in domestic branding and product promotion initiatives that focus on Prairie wheat in Canadian flour and pasta. Only by increasing demand can we increase valueadded processing.

Bill Toews CWB elected director, District 10 Kane, Man.

Harder Only Tells Half Of The Story

I feel I must respond to Wilfred Harder’s letter in the Nov. 18 issue.

The letter states that “it would be up to farmers rather than MPs – be it Conservative, Liberal or NDP – to determine the CWB’s future.”

Harder knows that this is only half the story. The current CWB Act, written after much consultation with producers (and in which I was very active) stipulates that producers of a grain (wheat, barley or canola) can ask for inclusion or exclusion. After a referendum of producers of that grain, the minister would introduce a bill to Parliament to make the changes.

It requires an act of Parliament to make any changes, not a motion or recommendation from the board of directors. Hence, the comments from Ernie Sirski are also correct.

I have known Ernie for a long time. I have never heard him say that the single desk must go. I have heard him say that there is no dual market, just an open market, and I have heard him say that no one has explained how the CWB could function in an open market.

Ernie Sirski has stated that he is there for the business side of the CWB. Maximizing farmers’ returns from the CWB is his priority. That should be the goal of every director.

Don Dewar Dauphin, Man.

Low-Level Presence Policy On GM Needed

I was pleased to see Allan Dawson’s article “Hearings on GM regulation Bill C-474 shut down” in the Nov. 4Manitoba Co-operator. But while the article shone light on this important issue, one critical thing was overlooked: the call from most farm groups that appeared before the agriculture committee for a low-level presence policy on genetically modified crops.

As the article notes, providing an absolute guarantee that no trace amounts of GM crops will be found in non-GM crops is not realistic, nor is it practical given the vast infrastructure dedicated to the transport of crops. Technology is now so advanced that it can detect one seed in 10,000.

Let’s turn our attention to creating low-level presence policies that permit trace amounts of GM materials, which have been fully approved by at least one regulatory body in the world, in trade shipments.

We at CropLife Canada are joined by the Grain Growers of Canada, the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association, the Canadian Seed Trade Association, the Canola Council of Canada and the Canadian Canola Growers Association among others in our support of a solution that allows Canadian farmers to continue to benefit from the latest biotechnology tools and remain competitive on the global stage while protecting human health and the environment.

Lorne Hepworth

President CropLife Canada

It’s Not Just The Directors

I feel I must respond to Wilfred Harder’s letter “Candidates need to declare their views,” Co-operator,Nov. 18. The letter states that “it would… be up to farmers rather than MPs – be it Conservative, Liberal or NDP – to determine the CWB’s future.”

While this statement is in fact not a misrepresentation, it does not put forward the entire story. Section 47.1 of the Canadian Wheat Board Act states: “…the minister has consulted with the board about the exclusion or extension, and b) the producers of the grain have voted in favour of the exclusion or extension, the voting process having been determined by the minister.”

What this means is that the CWB, or any other farm group representing a significant amount of board grains or any other grains, can ask for an exclusion or inclusion. But after that has been done, there must be a referendum with a clear question, after which, with a majority, would the minister put forward a bill to Parliament. Only after that bill were to pass could a crop be added or removed from the single desk.

Therefore, it would not be Ernie Sirski’s or any other director’s decision to affect the single desk. It would be up to Western Canada’s wheat and barley farmers. And it must be passed by Parliament.

With his experience on the CWB board of directors, Wilf Harder should know how the act should be employed. I am sure that Ernie, once elected to the board, will consult you in matters of your expertise.

Sirski has always stated that he is there for the business side of the CWB. Maximizing farmers’ returns is his priority. He should be commended for that. Bruce Dalgarno

Newdale, Man.

Avoiding The Question Doesn’t Wash

I just read Kevin Hursh’s commentary about the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) election. I don’t always agree with Kevin’s view, but I have to in regards to this slate of candidates in the CWB election. The anti-CWB, or dual-market, candidates in this election are not showing their true colours. They are hoping to get elected, and then destroy the single desk of the Canadian Wheat Board from within.

I also have to agree that the anti-CWB candidates are being coached by the same person or organization. Why do I have this thought? The answers in their bios about the single-desk marketing are similarly misleading and vague. Fellow farmers, beware of the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

The anti-single-desk candidates over the years have not received the support among farmers that they have bragged to have had. So, they are now trying to trick undecided farmers by hiding the fact that they do not believe in or suppport single-desk marketing.

Farmers, remember we lost the Crow Rate, we also lost the greatest grain co-op in the world when we lost the Sask Wheat Pool. We were duped by the same-thinking dual-marketing people in years gone by. Let’s not be fooled again.

David Bailey Saskatoon, 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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