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Letters – for Sep. 15, 2011

One small step towards marketing freedom

Farmers will finally be allowed the marketing freedom they have long been denied. The monopoly powers of the CWB will soon be revoked and it will either be an optional marketing entity available to farmers or it will cease to exist.

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz has held fast to his party s commitment to bring market choice to all Western farmers. After all, it is the farmer who decides what to grow, incurs all the inputs costs, and puts all his or her labour into growing a commodity, shouldn t they be able to decide when to sell their grain and to whom?

Ritz has stated numerous times during this ongoing debate that one farmer s rights should not override another farmer s rights. Most groups supporting this initiative have stressed the importance of property rights.

I look forward to the day that marketing freedom is bestowed upon all farmers, whether they grow grain or other agricultural products. Presently, I cannot grow more then four acres of potatoes without incurring the wrath of Peak of the Market (another farmer-run marketing board). Nor can I raise dairy cows and produce milk for direct sales to consumers (even if it was pasteurized). I trust once all the legal challenges make their way through the court system(s) (which may take five to 10 years), we will see further challenges related to other commodities. Hopefully the government of the day will remember the goal of marketing freedom when these other groups offer resistance to change.

Robert Vosters Marquette, Man. received this majority government, they would remove the monopoly. They have the power to change or even eliminate the CWB act.

The Prime Minister gave the single-desk supporters over a year to come in with their recommendations on what changes they would require to operate in a dual marketplace starting August 1, 2012.

Instead of coming in with ideas and co-operating with the government, the monopolists are behaving like spoiled children and saying that unless we continue to let them have their way they are going to ride off into the sunset and close shop. The CWB is spending a lot of farmer s money trying to convince the world that they are the only ones capable of saving the poor uneducated farmer.

The ball is in their court and if the CWB and their supporters don t change their tactics, they alone will be responsible for the demise of the CWB. That would be a shame.

Buck Spencer Producer, Lethbridge, Alberta

Farmers should work with welfare groups

I read with interest Will Verboven s comment in the Sept. 8 edition concerning the PR issues of food-animal producers. People concerned about animal welfare are variously called nefarious, extremist and zealots.

The so-called misconceptions of the teacher being passed on to naive students seriously underestimates the ability of young people to make up their own minds. There are many factors contributing to the negative opinion of large-scale farm operations. Videos of animal abuse on YouTube reveal situations that is some cases are the exception but also cases where it is the norm. To say that the public (also known as your customers) may react in an emotional way instead of listening to the producers scientific point of view is a fact of life that producers continue to ignore and resist instead of thinking that perhaps the ball is in their court to make improvements to the way animals are treated.

The comment that animal rights extremist groups are always on the cutting edge of a number of topics surprises me. Just because somebody has a different opinion does not make them ignorant of technology. As for being well-financed, most animal welfare groups are non-profit and pick and choose where they spend their limited funding for the most impact.

The article closes with It would seem animal rights zealots continue to win the battle for the emotional whims of the consumer. It s hard to know how the industry can fight back in a meaningful way. All I can say is that perhaps you shouldn t be concerned about fighting back, perhaps you should be concerned about working with animal-welfare groups about initiating change.

On page 14 in the same issue is another article about extending the sow s productive lifetime and it goes on to discuss trying to lower early death rates due to sores and lameness. Accompanying this article is a picture of a sow in a stall where she has perhaps six inches of clearance on either side and little room to move back and forth. All the concern for her well-being expressed in the article goes out the window with this photo. A picture is worth a thousand words and all the rhetoric in the world isn t going to change that.

Leslie Yeoman, member & co-founder, The Humane

Education Network (THEN) Winnipeg

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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