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Letters, March 22, 2012

Taxpayers on the hook (again)

When I first saw the article in newspapers about $4.5 million for Maple Leaf upgrades, my first thought was, is it election time again, and so soon?

I do not understand why Minister Vic Toews, chastises the city of Winnipeg and the media reporting as to what and whose sewage gets into the Red River, all eventually ending up in Lake Winnipeg. This is a grave concern and responsibility for everyone. Finger pointing and politicizing will do nothing productive to reduce the phosphorus (P) load. Needed and promised action has been forsaken far too long.

The Manitoba government, with good reason and sound evidence, determined that land areas with a high concentration of hog development, are overloaded with P from hog manure. The province has undertaken legislation to come to grips with the matter, by enacting Bill 46, “Save the Lake Act” with the full support of the opposition parties (Conservative and Liberal alike).

What I also fail to understand is just a few short years ago (2009), and all at taxpayers’ expense, hog barns were being shut down, herds were being culled and producers were being “paid” to get out of business. Now, as revitalization is being contemplated, Joe Citizen will pay again!

Is that fair to Manitobans and Canadian taxpayers? Why should we be “on the hook” for the benefit of a meat-exporting business?

For the record, there were no scientific studies done to support the Manitoba Pork Council’s one per cent illusion. In November 2006, the council, with full-page newspaper ads, proclaimed that hog manure contributes a mere one per cent of the total phosphorus load to Lake Winnipeg. (This was increased later by .5 per cent.) Soil scientist Don Flaten upon reviewing the technical notes, later cautioned the one per cent estimate is not a precise figure. It’s a rough estimate with some substantial assumptions.

A citizens’ group using the exact same figures arrived at a very different conclusion, and more realistic figure, of more than 7.5 per cent.

John Fefchak

Virden, Manitoba

Pure luck now the management strategy

The majority of farmers know that the Canadian Wheat Board returned all net sales revenue to farmers. We all shared the revenue from all negotiated sales that were made to all buyers. Thus the maximum market value was pooled back to all farmers from this effort.

True, individual farmers might have been able to beat this pooled price, which is the individual greed incentive to destroy the CWB. But that incentive is eliminated once the single desk is replaced by individual confusion about when is the best time and price to sell.

The buyers now hold the negotiation power since they can source the grain from me or some other farmer, making the farmers the ones to compete with each other to make their sales — just as unemployed workers compete to fill jobs.

Wheat has now been flat price contracted by a few different farmers from $6.50 to $7.50 a bushel for October 2012. This means that the harvest is locked into delivery at that location and on the terms then applied by the company contract (guaranteed delivery to that company — in some cases crop or no crop) and so that farmer is unable to receive further value increases, as was the case with the CWB.

That large variation in price is at the same delivery point for similar wheat. So, the buyer (not the farmer) gains the dollar cost average to purchase the wheat at $7 or the average buying price. Those farmers selling at those wide prices just gambled that value would not increase.

Pure luck is now the operative management strategy for selling wheat. Farmers have that same problem selling canola or cattle or corn on the open market.

Over time pure luck will reduce the number of farmers, since it is a zero sum game. Some will sell for more and some others will sell for less, thus becoming underpaid and unlikely to survive at farming.

The U.S. government has rich farm support — grain market loan rate programs — to aid farmers faced with such market management situations, while Canada has nothing close to this.

Ian Robson

Deleau, Manitoba

Concern for Cigi hypocritical

The March 8 letter from Blaine Pedersen, PC MLA for Midland, left me amazed at his hypocrisy in accusing Premier Selinger and the NDP of being content to sit and watch well-paying, skilled head-office Cigi jobs leave Manitoba.

Where were Blaine and his PC colleagues when Selinger supported farmers’ efforts to prevent the loss of the CWB single-desk marketing and those well-paying, skilled head-office jobs? The PC caucus supported the Harper government position; their silence was deafening.

Farmers and the Selinger government are aware of the involvement of the CWB single desk working in conjunction with Cigi and the Canadian Grain Commission to actively promote the branding of quality Canadian grains.

It seems that Pedersen and his PC caucus are just now becoming aware of the benefits some farmers have been fighting to keep this past year with no help from them.

Perhaps, as PC critic for MAFRI, Pedersen should have toured the CWB as well as Cigi to understand the intertwined complexities within the grain business that the CWB single desk anchored on behalf of western Canadian farmers.

John Sandborn

Benito, Manitoba

Provincial Tories sat idly by

I can’t believe the hypocrisy of Progressive Conservative Agriculture Critic Blaine Pedersen in his letter bemoaning the potential loss of 35 jobs if the Canadian International Grains Institute moves from Manitoba to Saskatoon. He and his crew sat idly by, and in fact, cheered on their federal counterparts as they moved to destroy the Canadian Wheat Board, with the potential loss of hundreds of jobs and thousands of dollars in farm income. Now, as a direct result of the loss of the CWB single desk, we may lose 35 jobs, and he is upset with the provincial NDP. Did he or any of his provincial Conservative MLAs ever once call the federal Tories to express any concern about what this ideological vendetta could cost Manitoba? If not, then he has little credibility on this subject. Keep in mind, Mr. Pedersen, this will affect not just the federal Tories in the next election with the loss of a lot of the farm vote, but also the provincial Conservatives in the next few provincial elections. Your silence on this subject has been loud and clear.

Alan Skardal

Baldur, Manitoba

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