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Letters – for Mar. 24, 2011

When “many appeared clueless about what was going on” as cited in the March 10 Manitoba Co-operator,how many of the canola growers invited to stack the largest annual meeting ever, beginning with all the MCGA directors who oversaw the theft of “the now-defunct grain co-operatives,” would have known or answered correctly that Manitoba’s Cinderella crop, once king among eight, now “only beats out Monsanto’s Roundup Ready soybeans, wheat and barley for profitability?

And for farmers, who over the longer-term bank profit, not spin, what is the bigger picture behind the directors’ cash grab in doubling the compulsory checkoff when MCGA collected $2.4 million, up from $941,478 the previous year?

Within this background and in an environment where, like the 2000 board, Rob Pettinger had refused democratic access to the membership thereby denying opportunity to democratically encourage a broader cross-section of attendees, now brazenly and repeatedly omitted to provide agreed-upon information making necessary that I asked Pettinger… several times, why the new bylaws did not include previously passed (hard-won farmer-member initiated) MCGA resolutions. Is there any wonder that “His exchanges with Pettinger during the meeting were often testy?”

I compliment theManitoba Co-operatorfor the editorial and two articles, which document hard-won resolutions and assurances.

Instead of wasting scarce resources of time and money on a high-priced lawyer reading proposed bylaws already distributed to every member, all at the expense of hard-earned checkoff dollars, members would have benefited from explanations why a new farmer selling canola for the first time in August must wait nearly 2-1/2 years before being able to participate at an AGM?

While much of today’s media provides news benefiting big-ticket advertisers, and genuine democracy never arrives without a struggle, without a doubt, my hat’s off for theManitoba Co-operator’spresence and coverage noted in the above.

Eduard Hiebert St. Francois Xavier This individual advocates “eco-farming techniques” as the optimal way to bring on improvements for farmers in poor parts of the world. The report is said to explain “… how small-scale farmers’ productivity is improved by as much as 80 per cent by using eco-farming techniques that not only increase their income but do not damage the environment.” This approach, whatever it actually involves, does not rely on non-renewable resources.

By contrast, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, also keenly interested in addressing the same problem in the same parts of the world, and Africa in particular, believe that nothing good is going to happen in agriculture unless it is driven by biotech – that is biotech that small farmers can use, and which they intend to develop.

As usual, we have influential groups with high-paid staff arguing from opposite ends of the ideological spectrum. Which one can deliver the goods?

I am leaning towards the Gates, partly because, unlike the UN, they are spending their own money.

One of these groups is barking up the wrong tree. We need to know which one – so limited resources can be directed to the one that has potential. Bill Anderson Forrest, Man.

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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