Letters to the editor – February 14, 2013

CONSUMERS GOUGED

I suppose the quoting of Gerry Ritz directly is the best way to show the incapacity and bluster of this poor selection of an agriculture minister.

His great line, “We run under the basis of marketplace, not mailbox,” should be greeted with a response of how that is not hypocritical, when a huge chunk of agriculture — namely the dairy, egg, chicken and turkey industry — has little connection to the much-vaunted free market.

In that sector, the consumer is gouged with set prices in the greatest scheme since Karl Marx was a lad.

Next thing he will be preaching is that this government-controlled system is good for consumers, unlike those other commodity areas such as pork, beef, grains and oilseeds.

Those poor producers need to be free to see “market signals” and “let people adapt and forward think and plan what they need to do.”

Douglas Taylor,
Edmonton, Alta.

CONTROLLING THE MONEY

If one is interested in reading how our economy can run smoothly, check in on J. Ken Galbraith.

In his book Money, Where It Came, Where It Went, Galbraith went back in time identifying what people have used as currency, including wampum and even cigarettes.

He reviewed the effect money has had on our economic system. He also covered what politicians have done or not done to control the economy.

At the end of the book, he has an interesting conclusion. Politicians, who claim to be friendly to the capitalist system and corporations, are reluctant to pass legislation or set regulations to make the system run efficiently.

There are political parties, which if they formed government, would pass legislation and set regulations making the capitalist system work better, preventing inflation and recessions.

As Galbraith pointed out, the irony is, conservatives and corporations do their best to prevent the election of governments who would do a better job of making the “free enterprise” system run properly.

Lorne Jackson,
Riverhurst, Sask.

BURNING ALTERNATIVE

I moved from Alberta and lived in Manitoba, near Winnipeg, for 24 years. It always dismayed me that Manitoba farmers burn their stubble in the fall.

I do realize that most of the soil, especially in southern regions, is heavy clay. However, there is an alternative to burning stubble every fall.

It is as simple as farmers attaching a straw chopper to the rear of their combines. It chops up the straw into manageable particles that can be cultivated, disced or tilled into the clay in the fall after harvest.

That would not involve more work because the field will then be partially prepared for seeding in the spring.

Using a straw chopper would have double benefits. The straw particles mixed in the soil will keep the clay loosened and add nutrients.

Most importantly, the health of people would be less at risk from smoke inhalation and health care costs would be reduced.

Also, what impression do tourists have when they innocently drive into a haze of foul-smelling, eye-burning smoke when they approach the capital city of Winnipeg? Not a very good one, I suspect.

When I lived in Manitoba, I would never head west or south in the fall, for business or holidays. I would also warn and tell out-of-province people not to come to Manitoba if they were heading in from the south or the west during the fall because of the stubble burning smoke.

I have retired and moved back to Alberta, but I have family and many friends still in Manitoba. I return to Manitoba at least once a year to visit, but never in the fall because of the stubble burning.

Lynn Link,
Spruce Grove, Alta.

FREE MARKET?

In several media releases, minister of agriculture Gerry Ritz is espousing the virtues of “marketing freedom.” It appears he is still in the honeymoon state of marketing freedom.

Mr. Ritz should go undercover … and take a load of wheat to the elevator and see how the grain companies operate. Some of the grain companies’ favourite quotes are as follows:

  • Sorry, no room for the No. 2 wheat you have on your truck but we do have lots of room for No. 3.
  • Sorry, no room for CWB wheat. We are taking our own wheat contracts first.
  • Why sell to the CWB when you can get paid all your money up front?
  • Sorry, dry wheat is now 14 percent so we have to discount it.
  • You didn’t buy any of your inputs from us. We have to serve other customers first.
  • Sorry, no extra money for wheat with protein values over 13.5 percent.
  • How many tonnes of this grain do you have for sale?
  • Sorry, only semi loads, no smaller grain trucks.
  • What’s the Canadian Grain Commission?
  • If you have concerns about the wording of our contract, you don’t have to deal with us. The next elevator is only 80 miles down the road.

Gerry and his Conservative government have taken my choice — single desk CWB — and my freedom away from me and given all the powers, rules and regulations to the multinational grain companies.

They are taking money from producers’ pockets to reward shareholders under this “new marketing freedom.”

The Conservatives have turned us back over 100 years to an archaic “open market,” which is a financial abuse to producers under the so-called new name “marketing freedom.”

Eric Sagan,
Melville, Sask.

STARS SHINING

If I am not mistaken, the Jan. 24 issue marks the second time that Mr. Henry Neufeld of Waldeck, Sask., has written in to complain about the STARS air ambulance. Perhaps he feels it is an unnecessary expense, given that he lives all of about 20 kilometres from the emergency room in Swift Current.

However, those of us who are not so geographically blessed are extremely glad to have access to this service. Time to hospital can be upwards of several hours from when the ambulance is called in my area due to lack of funding and lack of staff. An air ambulance can help save the lives of people in communities that are more isolated than Mr. Neufeld.

Ben Settler,
Lucky Lake, Sask.

ALFALFA MORATORIUM

Monsanto is currently attempting to make its Roundup Ready alfalfa the first genetically modified perennial planted in Canada.

After five years of lawsuits, the sale and growth of genetically modified alfalfa was approved unconditionally by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Jan. 27, 2011.

Genetically modified alfalfa has been grown for the past two seasons in the United States.

Now, Wisconsin-based Forage Genetics International plans the wide-scale selling of Monsanto’s genetically modified alfalfa seeds in Ontario and Quebec as early as the 2013 growing season.

This would be the first wide-scale sale and growth of genetically modified alfalfa seeds in Canada.

The introduction of genetically modified alfalfa has the ability to wipe out the entire foundation of organic and non-genetically modified agriculture. Alfalfa is a staple livestock feed. It is a crop often used by farmers during the three-year field transition from conventional to organic farming.

Alfalfa also becomes essential in the crop rotation once a farm becomes organic because, as a nitrogen-fixer, it naturally fertilizes the soil.

Contamination by feral, perennial, widely cross-pollinating GM alfalfa would be devastating to organic and non-GM agriculture. It would particularly affect organic/non-GM meat, dairy, eggs, and honey.

The results of an unprecedented two-year animal feeding trial, released in September 2012, found that lab rats fed genetically modified corn as well as glyphosate residue — the primary ingredient in Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup — developed high incidences of tumours, multiple organ damage and premature death.

No genetically modified animal feeding trials have been done up to this point for longer than 90 days.

We are calling for an immediate moratorium on the sale, planting, and growth of genetically modified alfalfa in Canada ahead of the 2013 growing season.

Jillian MacPherson,
Carievale, Sask.

Douglas Taylor,


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  1. Re: Consumers Gouged This person writes about all the people who make their living entirely from the market place. But this person has missed two very important groups of food growers. They are the fruit and vegetable growers. In my closest store fruits and vegetables both fresh and canned make up 20% of the store floor space or more.

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