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Letters – for May. 14, 2009

Open market would not change wheat acreage

Would wheat acreage in Western Canada really soar if there were an open market for Prairie wheat? The Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association (WCWGA) says so, and points to Ontario as evidence.

In fact, the general upward trend in Ontario’s wheat acreage began decades before the end of Ontario’s single desk for wheat in 2003. If an Ontario farmer chooses to plant wheat, it likely has more to do with the price of corn, the price of fertilizer, and fall planting conditions. The WCWGA compares Ontario’s 2002 harvested wheat acreage to that of 2008 and attributes the increase to an open market. However, seeded acres are obviously a better indication of farmers’ intentions. The last time Ontario farmers sowed wheat in a single-desk environment was the fall of 2002, when they seeded one million acres to wheat. In 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2008, they seeded significantly fewer acres to wheat. Was this also because of the demise of the single desk?

The truth is that fundamentally different market factors make it hard to compare wheat production in Ontario and on the Prairies in any meaningful way. Ontario grows more soft wheat; the Prairies grow more hard wheat. Ontario wheat is sold close to home; Prairie wheat is sold around the world. If the WCWGA is interested in a valid comparison of wheat acreage trends, it should look to the U. S. northern-tier states, where farmer decisions are motivated by similar market factors. For the past decade, wheat acreage in the northern-tier states has moved in unison with wheat acreage in Western Canada.

Larry Hill Chair, CWB board of directors Swift Current, Sask.

Factory model doesn’t work for pigs

“We hope to God it doesn’t affect pigs.”

This was the statement from an industry official in the April 30 Manitoba Co-operator article “Officials hope swine flu doesn’t spread to pigs” by Ron Friesen.

I seem to recall a few years ago when the mad cow situation first revealed itself in many of the provinces, an article by Laura Rance made a comparison of such a catalyst striking the hog industry. The ramifications were indeed grim and even to a state of being a catastrophe.

Now that God has been asked to help; it seems to me God gives us choices. It is up to us as individuals to make those choices, wisely and with due consideration to the animals that are being raised for food. This is a very important choice, too often overlooked and neglected.

Is this swine flu virus “just the tip of the iceberg” so to speak, or is this yet another lesson that raising animals under factory conditions is not a good choice and a poor example of animal husbandry?

We often make references to using “common sense.” Yet at times and situations like this, it seems so rare.

John Fefchak Virden, Man. think like Viterra. Our farm purchased the Winkler Cargill grain elevator from Cargill a few years ago and it is a great asset to our farm.

Viterra’s safety excuses are lame – call a spade a spade.

Maybe Viterra should be more concerned about competition from the multinationals than the farmer who uses an elevator for grain storage. Who knows, maybe farmers might even sell you (Viterra) their grain?

Why would you bite the hand that feeds you?

Ray Friesen W. J. Siemens Farming Co. Winkler, Man.

Please forward letters to Manitoba Co-operator, 1666 Dublin Ave., Winnipeg, R3H 0H1 or Fax: 204-954-1422 or e-mail: [email protected](subject: To the editor)

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