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Doggerel 2015

An Editorial Director's opine, the past year in rhyme

As you may know, in each year’s first edition
We take stock of the past one, and in line with tradition
Using proven techniques such as analyzing innards of turkey
Tell you what to expect in the future, so it isn’t so murky

Expecting another crop like 2013’s might be a little unreasonable
But it would have been nice if 2014 was a bit more seasonable
After a cool and wet spring and conditions generally inferior
Things warmed up and by August the farmers seemed cheerier

But then the skies opened again and harvest got kind of rough
Much of grain ended up coming off damp if not tough

About Manitoba’s southwest corner I once used to thinka
That it was usually a bit dry around Dand and Napinka
But now many of those fields that once were a bit parchy
Are full of rushes and cattails and look rather marshy
Looking for a reason? Well, I think I can catch you one
It’s not just the rain, but drainage from Saskatchewan
If we don’t find a way to slow it, perhaps with some storage
The southwest won’t be much good for crops; maybe just forage
That we need some drainage is a point I don’t need to belabour
But drainage policy can’t just be “Send it all to the neighbour”

While I’m not so old that I’ve seen a train of Red River oxcarts
I do recall when grain had to be shipped out in boxcarts
From thousands of old wooden elevators on branch lines located

But according to the railways, that was a system outdated
“To use a few concrete elevators would make much more sense
“And instead of branch lines, use roads” (built at public expense)
But now the railways have got just what they requested
You’d think their performance should be somewhat bested
Now they want the revenue cap lifted, but I want to know
Why they shipped more cars per week when we still had the Crow

As the crop year began Ritz was still under the railways’ spell
And insisting that shipments were really going quite well
But after an earful from farmers whose bins were still busting
He realized he might take a beating if he was out on the hustings
So suddenly Ritz said, “Get a move on,” after acting quite meekly
“If not I’ll fine you daily,” he said (or did he mean weekly?)

Elevators say that the case when they have no more space is
That they discourage deliveries by widening the basis
But at this claim some farmers and others will scoff it

They say last year’s wide basis was pure company profit
I’m not really sure, and perhaps I’m just living in history
But I recall when these things weren’t as much of a mystery
If the co-ops were stiffing you, at least you could keep count
By reading their annual reports you’d know the amount
And the CWB annual report could also be evidential
But Ritz won’t release it because it’s now confidential
(That he wants to unload CWB cheap has a few people upset
But I wouldn’t take it for free, I think it’s got too much debt)
It’s fine for Gerry to say that we now have marketing freedom
But for a free market to work, more details we need ’em
Down south the USDA provides all kinds of backing
Reporting sales, stocks and prices — all of which we are lacking
In the card game of marketing it seems that the case is
That farmers just have deuces, but the grain companies have aces

But more happily if you’re a seller of bovine-type critters
Things are now going much better after a few years quite bitter
Perhaps all those tough years post-BSE are the main reason why
To retain some more heifers, so far the farmers seem shy
But sooner or later I think that I’m right in assuming
That the cattle cycle will be at some point resuming
So now’s a good time for cowboys to admit that they’re lacking
In comparison to others in things such as quality tracking
To stay competitive in future it might be that the tricks is
To invest in farm-to-plate systems like the new version of BIXS

But I know that too much on the past you don’t want me dwelling
You’re anxious to know more of my future foretelling
Plant more wheat or canola — what’s my recommendation?
Definitely, as long it makes sense for your long-term rotation
And to grow some more barley I wouldn’t be halting
As long as you’re sure to plant the kind that goes malting
Keep heifers or sell ’em — what’s the best way to prepare?
(Shhh… hang on to yours, but tell the neighbours to ship theirs)

I’ve got much more good advice, but I’m sorry the case
Is that I must come to an end, there’s just no more space
So once again I’ll close with a message from all of us here
For good crops and good prices, and a Happy New Year!

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