Letters to the editor – November 22, 2012

MEGA-FARM REVOLUTIONS?

I noticed your recent articles about mega-farms. We have them here, too. The inheritance tax was written to control them; it didn’t. Either some drastic measures must be taken or revolutions may result. Going back in history, mega-farms contributed to most of the revolutions I studied in history.

We will start with the French Revolution. Most of the good farmland was owned by the rich, mostly kings’ favourites. The work was done by the serfs. If the land was sold, the serf was sold, too. The owners mostly lived in cities and never went near the farms except to hunt or collect rents.

Some big plantation owners lived in England before the American Revolution. Most of them weren’t broken up at the end of the war as there was a lot of open land. For the most part, the absentee landlords were replaced.

The Irish Revolution was another.

The communist takeover was made much easier as the Russian nobility owned much of the land as mega-farms. That was so common a poet wrote a poem about it, Noblesse Oblige. Its theme was the owners were not productive, as they did no work.

The landowners were not productive, and only babies have the right to produce nothing, was the only line I remember from that poem.

Unless my memory fails me, a Canadian landowner has to live in Canada, be a citizen of Canada, or if he is not a citizen, have citizenship applied for, and follow through in a reasonable length of time. I know four people who lost their Canadian land because of this law, or so they said. Three of them are dead.

Yes, mega-farms are a problem to Canada, but no match for the ones in the U.S. Our farm program helps the big farmers more than the medium-sized ones. I think it is a good time to be old if you are a U.S. citizen.

And then, we have the death tax. It really is hard to pay for the farm every generation. What is wrong with the death tax is the rich people don’t seem to pay it and the middle class pays through the nose.

George Thompson,
Nezperce, Idaho

LEADING US WHERE?

I never thought I’d say this, but I may be lucky to be living in a riding represented by a member of Parliament on the government side — Conservative Robert Sopuck, Dauphin-Swan River-Marquette — after all.

I say this because the government Mr. Sopuck represents, under Stephen Harper, has decided the Assiniboine River, one of millions of lakes, rivers and streams in Canada, is among the very few designated as protected under its new Navigation Protection Act. It happens to flow through Mr. Sopuck’s riding, not far from where I live.

This protection means that ice fishers, anglers and pleasure boaters will keep their historic right, which dates back to Sir John A. (Macdonald) himself, to navigate the river without being obstructed by any more bridges, mining or forestry equipment, pipelines or dams.

At least, any proposed new infrastructure of this kind will need a permit from Ottawa. That apparently won’t be the case for all those unprotected waterways. They, by contrast, will be wide open for business. And, according to the opposition, the vast majority of those are said to fall within non-government ridings.

So, as you may have guessed by now, I speak with tongue in cheek.

In fact, this kind of thing simply reeks of patronage, cynicism and hypocrisy — a shoddy new low, even for the Harperites.

It exposes for all to see that the “cloak of green” Mr. Sopuck likes to put on to cleverly disguise himself as an environmentalist is now threadbare — as is Mr. Harper’s pledge in his election victory speech to be “a leader for all Canadians.”

Larry Powell,
Roblin, Man.

CONSERVATIVE GRATITUDE

Thanks to prime minister Stephen Harper and minister of agriculture Garry Ritz, we now have the Conservative Wheat Board, all political appointees, since all our elected farmer directors were fired. The farmers for Just Us seem to think they have marketing freedom. What a farce. We are now all slaves to the vagaries of a fluctuating market.

Other things for which we can be thankful to our government: austerity measures; funding was cut for CIDA (Canadian International Dev-elopment Agency) and international charitable organizations; no more trees for farmsteads from Indian Head; phasing out of community pastures; no more CBC television for rural residents. But we had $28 million to spend to commemorate the War of 1812. And we have billions of dollars to spend for fighter planes. What do we need them for?

J. W. Zunti,
Luseland, Sask.

MEAT CHOICES

On a recent trip to a grocery store in Morinville, Alta., I observed a lady next to me buying two dozen or more packages of wieners. The cashier asked if they were on sale, since she had so many.

“No,” was her reply. “They are for the local food bank”.

Just recently, Wildrose party leader Danielle Smith was in trouble for suggesting that surely some of the recalled beef from XL Foods could have been salvaged and, if cooked properly, could have been used to feed the hungry.

Which is worse — feeding the poor hot dogs, i.e. wieners, laced with chemicals and nitrates and nitrites, which can cause colon and other cancers, or recalled beef, provided it is cooked properly? Not all the recalled beef was contaminated with E. coli and it could have been tested, I’m sure.

On CBC’s Marketplace program Oct. 26, they were testing tenderized roasts and steaks done mechanically and they were laden with E. coli because these machines are impossible to sanitize, yet none of this meat states on the packaging whether or not it has been tenderized. It’s like playing Russian roulette buying fresh meat in any grocery chain in Canada.

That’s why I buy privately from a farm growing and cutting its own naturally grass-fed animals.

Elaine Sloan,
Busby, Alta.

DIRTY TRICKS

The Oct. 25 issue of The Western Producer contained a letter entitled Paper Wheat. There will be readers who remember the well-produced and well-acted play Paper Wheat, which toured Saskatchewan more than once. It was written around early farmers’ struggle to get out from under the grip of the private grain companies and create their own co-operatives, such as the late, once highly respected wheat pools.

Aside from the fact that farmers are often their own worst enemies, there have been many dirty tricks pulled on all facets of farming these last few years, and this will likely continue since the few farmers left have little political power and little cohesiveness. If another up-to-date play were written, I would suggest the title Betrayed.

C. D. Pike,
Waseca, Sask.

AUCTION TAX?

Recently I attended an auction, and did a substantial amount of business with the auction company of the day. Upon payment, they charged me an “administrative fee.” That’s what they call it. I prefer to call it a tax on doing business with them.

Yes, I was aware of the fee, for they had a very considerate employee point it out to me upon registration. That is not the point.

The point is the fee itself, and the audacity of a business to charge it to their customer. Fathom this: a person going into a Canadian Tire, Wal-Mart or local Co-op, doing $5, $10, $50 or maybe $200,000 worth of business, and then being charged an administrative fee at the till.

Solution: What if you called an auction and nobody came? It would seem this may be occurring, for during a year with relatively good yields and record high prices, there was a small crowd. It would seem they stayed home.

I will be joining them.

Berle Eberle,
Viceroy, Sask.

George Thompson,