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Letters, April 11, 2013

One super farm group needed?

Danny Penner has been advocating for one “super” farm group to speak with one voice. That idea has been around for as long as there have been farmers.

It’s easy to feel disassociated with the groups that are left, such as the commodity groups and the astroturf wheat-barley growers, Grain Growers of Canada and the Canada Grains Council, all of whom have a long record of being lapdogs of the industry and the present Conservative government. They cannot speak against Ottawa and industry for fear of losing funding or their place in the prime minister’s sunshine.

Penner states, “While it is widely agreed that changes in an open market will continue to benefit producers” it seems ironic he also contends a supergroup is needed in an open market. He can’t have it both ways.

He also states, “If Canadian farmers want to maintain control of the agriculture industry, they need to work to form a unified voice.”

What he has missed is that Canadian farmers presently do not control the agriculture industry. Groups like his have ensured that the industry is firmly in control of agriculture in Canada, not farmers.

Many of the present groups are ineffective as farmer voices as they have been infiltrated by the industry. In some cases, industry representatives even sit on the executives of these groups.

Groups such as the National Farmers Union, who actually believe in farmer control, and do not have any corporate sponsorship membership are seen as “old fade.”

It was people like Penner who naively believed industry propaganda and helped to undermine our independent institutions. Industry and farmers will never have the same vision or voice. Farmers certainly need an independent voice to balance industry power, but we will not find that in the current crippled commodity and astroturf groups Penner seems to favour.

Eric Sagan

Melville, Sask.

Canadian role in fighting deserts

Regarding the April 4 editorial by John Morriss “Fighting more deserts,” it was probably a bad idea for the Harper government to drop its modest annual contribution to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, regardless of how little the committee seems to achieve. Similarly, it was almost certainly a bad idea for the UN to send its representative to Canada last May for a week of press conferences, declaring that Canada has a “food security” problem. An overeating problem maybe?

We can be proud of Canadian progress in the perfection of zero-tillage equipment and technology “… which has done so much to preserve Prairie soil.” Some Former Soviet Union countries can use this technology because their agronomic conditions and farming methods have similarities with our own. But once you get into parts of the world where most of the population is found, most of the food is produced, and much of the water scarcity and drought problem occur, you find that there is no place for 400-horsepower tractors and equipment designed for farming huge dryland fields.

As was noted, there is a market for such equipment in parts of the Former Soviet Union so it can be said without exaggeration that this Canadian technology is presently helping other parts of the world. Parts of Africa may have some potential in the not distant future. These markets develop largely on their own through market forces.

Bill Anderson

Forrest, Man.

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