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Letters – for Nov. 5, 2009

Cattle business future a sensitive subject

First of all, I would like to apologize to any seniors who took offence to my comments on the beef business in the article “High Dollar, Bad U. S. Economy Hitting Cow-Calf Producers,” in the Oct. 22 Manitoba Co-operator.

Over the years I have learned a lot from some of you and respect the hard work and dedication that has helped you through previous ups and downs in the farming industry. The day the reporter interviewed me at the auction mart, the two youngest people in the crowd were the auctioneer and the manager. As for Jo-Ann Gittoes comment “only the strong will survive,” maybe she can explain that to some of our younger producers who have had to deal with BSE and COOL over the last few years and have already, or are getting ready, to exit the business.

The number I hear is a 30 per cent cut in production, so does that mean everybody culls hard and reduces herd size or ? What is your opinion on that?

My father-in-law is approaching 70 years of age with no intention of retiring because that’s who he is “Rancher” and what he does “Ranch.” My boys are in their late teens and I cannot promote the beef business as a viable career choice. No black and white, lots of grey.

On another subject, I would like to thank all of you who give their time on the various beef and ag-related boards and associations to look for a viable solution and help pilot us into the future. Let’s hope for better prices next year. Cameron Kent

Kenton, Man.

Not ready to farm until I’m 80

I’d like to add my comments to the Oct. 22 article (“High dollar, bad economy hitting cow-calf producers,” Co-operator, page 1) and respond to Jo-Ann Gittoes’ comments (“Not ready to be put out to pasture,” Co-operator, Oct. 29, page 5).

In our area, well over half of the farms are directly or indirectly being subsidized by off-farm jobs or pension cheques. My wife and I run a 40-sow farrow-to-finish hog operation with 170 beef cows and 1,200 acres of cash crops. This should be enough to keep us busy and make a living. But when our youngest of four children goes to school in a year, there is a good chance one of us will go to work off the farm.

I would compare my job to that of a nurse, lawyer or heating company manager (all of which we have aunts and uncles doing). None of them have part-time jobs. I have nothing against farmers taking part-time jobs if that’s what’s needed to pay the bills. I just don’t feel farmers should have to accept this lifestyle as inevitable.

If farmers are happy with this style of farming, let me know now while I’m still young enough to get out. If I start now with a good company, maybe I could retire at 55 like my good friend at Hydro.

Sean Tolton Kenton, Man. processing? Will downsizing continue to increase offshore beef importation, and to whose advantage? Does downsizing help our communities stay alive? Does downsizing help the environment with land taken out of grass? Does downsizing mean one portion of the province will receive financial help to prevent mass exodus of cattle while the rest take it on the chin? Does downsizing our cattle herds give our governments and industry the right to sit on the fence and do nothing? Will downsizing help the families that left? Allan Downey Coulter, 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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