Government actions to blame
Regarding the Sept. 6 story “Latest feed crisis may be too much for the battered hog sector, I believe there is another very important factor that should not be disregarded. For every action, there is and will be, an opposite and equal reaction. The final straw, in this most recent case, that may have broke the “hog producers’ back,” in my view, was the previous actions of our governments.
When governments, including Manitoba, decided to support and sponsor ethanol plants, for the benefit of grain producers, the price of relatively cheap grain became more expensive. The hog producers, who did not grow sufficient grain to feed their huge inventory had to pay much higher prices to feed their animals just to stay in business.
Then came the recent drought, especially in the U.S., where corn was relatively inexpensive.
Now, there was no more cheap feed available. The prices have skyrocketed. This leads me to conclude that our federal and provincial governments, by sponsoring ethanol fuel plants, created a detrimental situation that was instrumental in the eventual and present situation of the factory hog producers and their portly industry.
With our governments burning the candle at both ends, the hog industry ended up getting burned, and of course, also the Canadian taxpayers.
Rather than flapping about the consequences and concerns, now would be a good time for all governments to reflect on the repercussions of their own actions and involvement that contributed to the downfall of the hog industry.
The following statement from former U.S. president, the late Ronald Reagan, rings true.
“Government does not solve problems; it subsidizes them.”
Productivity bar continues to rise
October 16 is the date of an annual event known as World Food Day. Earlier this year (March 2012) the world population passed the seven billion mark.
World Food Day draws attention to the roughly 900 million people who are “food insecure.”
Translated, this means people who live with hunger and fear starvation. Causes of food insecurity includes volatile food prices, floods, droughts, poverty, water scarcity, pestilence, poor marketing and transportation infrastructure, land scarcity, poor governance, unproductive agriculture and/or lack of investment in agriculture. India and Ethiopia are but two examples of countries where food insecurity is common.
Canada has “wall-to-wall” food and the “average” Canadian household spends a mere 12 per cent of its disposable income on food. In regions where food insecurity prevails, the household food bill is usually 30 to 70 per cent of disposable income.
Looking ahead, world population will grow by one billion to eight billion between now and 2025. That’s a done deal. Nothing can change that and takes into account that the percentage of world population growth is only about half what it was a few decades ago, thanks to more family planning almost everywhere. In fact, family planning has been adopted to such an extent in Canada, Western Europe, Japan and China that a scary demographic crisis of a different kind is in the works here.
To put these numbers in perspective, the population of Canada is presently 35 million. One billion more people in 2025 is like adding 30 more “Canadas” to the globe in 13 years.
With 30 more “Canadas,” the demands on agriculture and the resource base, both here and abroad, will continue to grow. The best solution for the environment would be fewer people, but that is obviously not going to happen.
Thus, as each year passes, the productivity bar will be raised for farmers here and abroad. This is one occupation that will not work its way out of a job.