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Stop the free rides across farmland

The problem with off road vehicles running rampant in our province is not a recent revelation.

Agricultural producers have been victims of this escalating abuse for more than 20 years and have repeatedly lobbied local and federal governments for preventive measures.

We are among hundreds of farmers who face economic and environmental losses every year from these tools of destruction. The current laws do not offer a realistic avenue for recovery and even less for prevention.

We have spent thousands of hours and dollars attempting to educate, prevent, and police the problem only to be met with indifference from all levels of those in the position of authority to make proactive changes.

Ironically, now that Crown land has been destroyed from ATVs, the provincial government is taking a first step to protect its assets.

But what about the thousands of agricultural acres threatened by even higher levels of risk and losses from these machines? Why is there still so little effort to protect and preserve one of our most valuable resources – our food?

There are multiple solutions, but they require combined efforts of all levels of government.

Education is part of the solution, but new laws must replace the current ineffective regulations and enforcement.

All off-road vehicles should follow the same principle as the recent changes to snowmobile registrations in conjunction with the Manitoba Public Insurance Corporation. A shared portion of the revenues generated could go toward appropriate trail development and proportionate funding for supportive local enforcement.

If municipalities allow ORVs and benefit from the revenues, then they too should support trail development for recreational use, along with clear bylaws to protect their community’s interests.

Manufacturers and dealers reap the benefits of sales and so they should be part of the solution at the very least, educational efforts. Perhaps a provincial tax with revenues allocated toward education or enforcement could be applied.

ORV associations and their members need to combine their efforts through co-operative educational programs and self-policing.

Farmers have more than their share of uncontrollable variables to deal with and certainly don’t need to contend with these costly nuisance variables that can be controlled.

It is time for everyone to step up to the plate and stop these destructive free rides.

Cindy Kellendonk Lac du Bonnet, 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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