Letters to the editor – December 20, 2012

DON’T PANIC, FARM ORGANIC

Re: David Suzuki takes swipe at conventional agriculture (WP, Dec. 6).

You can’t deny what Dr. Suzuki is advocating. He’s on the side of truth and reason when it comes to how field crops for food need to be produced.

We’ve been farming certified organic since 1985, so there’s proof that it can and does happen here on the Prairies of Western Canada, and it’s not a passing fad or experiment.

We still rely on refined oil for our fuel needs, but we don’t of course rely on oil for the fertilizer and chemical inputs that represent a huge percentage of what non-organic farming is about.

On this point alone the unsustainability of the off-farm inputs clearly stands out.

The article comments that “…organic farming isn’t perfect because producers must deal with fungus, disease and potential mycotoxin contamination.”

Of course organic farming isn’t perfect, nothing is, but I say that those disease and toxin problems are more in the realm of so-called conventional farming than in organics.

For example, it’s a fact, supported by Ag Canada research led by the Swift Current SPARC (Semiarid Prairie Agricultural Research Centre), that there is a direct correlation between increased fusarium plus subsequent mycotoxin contamination and the use of glyphosate. How many farmers know this? Surely everyone by now should be aware of this.

I know of some nearby farmers this year whose wheat has such a high percentage of fusarium that it is not fit for feed use, let alone human consumption.

Consumers do drive the agenda on what they want on their plates, not the agro-chemical and biotech industrial giants.

However, one huge problem is that those giants spend exorbitant amounts of money in advertising — the WP is clearly one blatant example of that and there’s even a herbicide ad on the article page — to continue to convince farmers to perpetuate the use of their products and patented seeds so they can have bigger and better yields and cleaner crops.

What they don’t tell you — and they know — is that those products are toxic and the real winners are themselves and their company shareholders with huge profits at the expense of farmers, consumers and the environment as a whole.

I strongly suggest the following: don’t panic, farm organic, and join the move towards increased sustainability and true farming.

Marc Loiselle,
Vonda, Sask.

RURAL ISSUES IGNORED

“The agriculture economy and the face of rural Manitoba are changing rapidly. The pace of change is particularly dramatic in the livestock sector as producers respond to new market forces and economic opportunities.”

“The Manitoba government has a responsibility to guide this development and ensure that industry growth does not occur at the ex-pense of the environment or our quality of life. To develop a plan for growth that is both viable and sustainable, we must consider the issues from all perspectives: economic, environmental and social. It is a trust and a challenge we take very seriously.”

What you have just read are two excerpts of a message from the NDP Manitoba government: a public discussion paper regarding livestock stewardship.

It was published in June of 2000 and signed by three ministers representing conservation, agriculture, and food and intergovernmental affairs.

But a report card on those very stimulating and inspiring words of responsibility in development and growth will show that those considerations and plans were never seriously acted upon.

The hog industry, for instance, tripled by some 300 percent to over nine million animals.

As official opposition to the previous Conservative government, the NDP voiced concerns and grave warnings about the vast amounts of hog manure that were being produced and how this might affect our vulnerable water sources.

Yet the industry under their government watch continued to expand, growing relentlessly and unchecked.

The social and rural issues were simply ignored. The unsustainable growth has affected the environment and our Manitoba waters.

Think of Lake Winnipeg and the algae blooms that threaten the very existence of this fresh-water lake.

Think of the sensitive and vulnerable Interlake area, where hog factories were permitted to be established.

Think of the families that packed up and relocated in rural Manitoba so their very health and respiratory issues would not be further compromised by the unrelenting stench and odour emitted by the exhaust fans….

Twelve years later, this report card assigns a grade of “F,” which indicates failure and unsatisfactory performance.

The above inspiring message that the government so graciously shared was mere propaganda and only worthy of the wastepaper basket.

John Fefchak,
Virden, Man.

MILK HAULERS VITAL

Re: “Milk trucks weak link in pipeline” (WP Nov. 8)

I would like to identify a concern I have with the headline on this article regarding our milk hauling.

The content of this article does not reflect the headline nor our positive relationship with our haulers. The article was a reflection of the producer year policy, not milk trucks.

Milk haulers are an important part of our industry and vital to the chain of hardworking people that ensure that safe, high quality milk is available for all Canadians.

Mike Southwood,
General Manager of Alberta Milk,
Edmonton, Alta.

QUESTIONING THE RULES

Re: Bernice Teringer letter to the editor, Nov. 15.

Bernice asks questions that are easily answered simply by doing a little homework.

Why didn’t Ontario have to comply with Canadian Wheat Board rules?

In fact, they did. The Ontario Wheat Marketing Board was formed by a majority vote of wheat producers in 1958.

In 1973, a two-thirds majority vote by farmers made it a single desk selling agency.

In 1990, a majority vote by farmers transitioned the board to the open market, completed in 2003.

In 2010, a majority vote by farmers merged the wheat farmers with those who grew corn and soy into the Grain Farmers of Ontario. Take note of the farmer vote record, not unilateral federal decree.

Why were people arrested and their vehicles confiscated?

They were, in fact, arrested for trying to export a commodity without proper documentation.

Load a sheep, a dog, a crate of “kinder eggs” or even your 10-year-old niece into your truck and try to cross the border with them today undocumented — you will face the same consequences.

What will be the outcome when one or more of the corporate entities enter creditor protection and the unsecured farmers get burned while an even bigger corporation steps in to buy up the assets at very attractive prices?

Oh, that’s already happened — see Big Sky and Puratone stories. Next in line could be the corporation you sell your grain to.

What will be the outcome when in four or five years the Conservatives sell the remainder of the wheat board assets to one of the very attractive offers it has already received and pockets the cash?

Will the western wheat producers simple say, “Let’s move on?”

Dianne McCollum,
Dunnville, Ont.

Marc Loiselle,


2 Responses

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  1. Welderone on

    It appears to me people are buying more and more organic bread and vegetables. Marc Loiselle is correct chemical companies, large machinery companies and fertilizer companies. Are the ones who made major profits since 1985. In the meantime the prices for wheat and barley where poor about 90% of the time in this time period. Because the markets were flooded with these two grains.

  2. Denise Trafford on

    If some farmers are spraying pesticides on their crops up to 5 or 6 times a year,plus GMO Roundup resistance seeds etc., it is not much wonder people are steering away from conventional grain products.
    Think of the machinery and fuel costs as well! ” Farmers,we have a problem.”

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