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Letters – for May. 28, 2009

Where’s the warming?

Regarding global warming: I do not believe in it. In the 1950s, I’d go to work every winter in Winnipeg, Toronto or California; I came back every spring April 1 and would get on my tractor – no cab, no jacket – and start farming. By April 20, the wild oats would be six inches tall; now they do not grow until June.

I can remember seeding on March 26 on fallow with a John Deere wheel drill and John Deere tractor; I was the first man in the field. If you think that’s early, my father was seeding on March 12 in the ’30s with five horses and a John Deere drill, the same as I used.

The springs have moved back two months since the ’50s. It does not warm up until June and the falls are a little later. I would like to hear from other farmers and hear their stories.

Jack Pawich Cartwright, Man.

CFB Shilo’s Safety Measures Not New

The article “Base commander losing battle for hearts and minds, say farmers” (Co-operator, May 14, page 2) requires clarification.

The Miller family will continue to have access to its farmland, as will the one other farming family who requires transit through the range and training area. We respect and acknowledge their need to access their land. Therefore, we have informed them that they need to notify us when they require access for farming. We will co-ordinate their travel in the area so they can get to their fields safely.

Travel to/from the fields in question is not 20 kilometres. The suggested route is less than five km more than the route they prefer, along roadways that are all within the boundaries of the Shilo ranges. It should be noted their preferred route is significantly longer than the 200 yards mentioned in your article.

These routes are minimally maintained and are used with increasing frequency by armoured vehicles and large trucks. As we maximize the use of our training area, we will be in areas we have not used much in the recent past. There are serious safety and security issues to civilians who may be unaware of training activity nearby. We ask that our training area be respected for both the safety of civilians and soldiers.

For nearly a century soldiers have trained in the area north of the Assiniboine River. The access measures being enforced are not new and have been in place for decades. There has always been a requirement for controlled access to the area due to training activity and the concern about unexploded explosive ordnance (UXO). These procedures apply to everyone, military and civilian. These measures have been ignored, flouted, and exploited. We have a duty as landowners to manage the area properly and to ensure safe and equitable access for everyone who has legitimate reasons to transit through.

We understand that minimal wait time during harvest is desirable. The installation of a remote electric gate will permit authorized access for farming while mitigating our concerns about continued security breaches and damage to property. Land-based phones with direct links to our range control office have been available for use for many years and can be used if cellular phone service is not reliable.

Big-game hunters will also be affected by the increased use of our training area. Due to the safety concerns outlined above and the need to conduct military training we will no longer be allowing hunters access to the training area in November. A planned exercise will see over 1,000 soldiers in the area at that time, practising ground and aerial tactics that will include the use of live ammunition.

It must also be stated that personal attacks have no place within the context of the story. That the reporter included them and the Co-operator published them is regrettable.

Lt.-Col. J. J. Schneiderbanger Base commander CFB Shilo

Secure Hog Barns Provide Flu Firewall

I wish to respond to John Fefchak’s comments in the May 14 issue of this paper (“Factory model doesn’t work for pigs,” Co-operator, page 5) with regard to what he calls the “factory model” for swine production, and its relationship to a possible disease pandemic.

Avian flu has presented some very significant challenges in a number of southeast Asian countries, largely due to the fact that there are so very many small backyard flocks of poultry roaming about freely. In contrast, when a case of avian flu was suspected in British Columbia, the area was immediately quarantined, extra biosecurity protocols (such as disinfecting the tires of vehicles entering and leaving the area) are put into place and any possible spread of disease is quickly contained and eradicated.

Foot-and-mouth disease in Great Britain resulted in the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of cattle. That country has a long-standing tradition of hiking trails winding through farmland, and the hikers merrily tracked this virus, as they do many other bacteria as well, from farm to farm on a regular basis. In Canada, we tend to encourage hikers to trek in public spaces and not across private farmland, and that has definite production advantages.

The “hit” in terms of the H1N1 flu virus and swine is not so much in the health or well-being of the animals. Even though pigs may contract the flu from people (as in the Alberta case), the animals may be a bit lethargic and have a reduced appetite for a day or two, but will very rarely be affected any more than that. Again, for a production model which raises animals indoors, quarantine and biosecurity measures are much easier to put in place and much more effective than a production model where there are hundreds of small backyard herds.

The disaster of H1N1 has not been that it might spread to pigs. The disaster is that this virus was misnamed (it is no more “swine” flu than it is “avian” flu and “human” flu); that completely unscientific panic closed borders to exports; and, of course, that the financial burdens of political decisions, ill informed or not, are most frequently borne by the primary producers. In this case, Canadian hog producers have borne the financial burden of several other ill-informed political decisions over the past couple of years, and many are already buckling under that burden.

I doubt that there exists one livestock production system which would be perfect in every way for every location and every producer. However, livestock raised in confinement production systems have a very definite advantage in terms of controlling the possible spread of disease viruses. In Canada, these production systems have evolved as a direct result of the “common sense” Mr. Fefchak is requesting – “common sense,” I might add, that is not at all a “rare”characteristic among our nation’s hog producers, but rather a very “prevalent” characteristic.

Marg Rempel Ste. Anne, 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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