Letters to the editor- May 15, 2014

NO MORE SIN

On the news this morning it was announced that His Holiness, Pope Francis, intends to instruct the Mafia to go forth and sin no more. Therefore I suggest we have the perfect emissary for the teaching of the gospel to the Mafia in our prime minster, who considers himself to be a world statesman. Here he could really make use of his talents far better than interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, and bring Canada some much needed glory.

Jean H. Sloan,
Lloydminster, Sask.

CHEQUE PLEASE

(Agriculture minister) Mr. (Gerry) Ritz, I am a small- to medium-sized farmer. I harvested about 50,000 bushels of wheat last fall.

According to your CWB’s market newsletter, the Vancouver selling price has been about $11 per bu. this winter.

Under the former Canadian Wheat Board, the traditional rule of thumb that farmers used was to subtract $1.50 per bu. from the average port selling price to determine what they would receive for their grain.

This covered the board’s marketing cost, the grain company handling fees and the rail transportation.

Therefore, if you had not destroyed the Canadian Wheat Board, I would have received $9.50 per bu. That would have translated into a gross farm income of $475,000.

With the wheat board gone, I am now receiving $5.50 per bu. instead of $9.50. Thanks to you I have been shortchanged $4 per bu. That translates into a reduction of $200,000 from my gross farm income. My return on wheat is now below the cost of production.

You and prime minister (Stephen) Harper are responsible. Please send a cheque.

Donn Dutchak,
Rama, Sask.

BAITING SUCKERS

A comment by John Stuart Mill (1806-1873): “Most conservatives are stupid; most stupid people are conservative.”

I saw an interesting report about grain pricing and want to share some of the numbers with you. One of the last years we had the Canadian Wheat Board, sales were $5.1 billion. After the railways and elevators took their handling charges, farmers received $4.3 billion, just over 80 percent of the sales.

Recently, the elevator companies were exporting wheat from Vancouver at about $11 a bushel, about $417 per tonne. To get grain to Vancouver, costs from Alberta to Manitoba are different, but the regulated tariffs average for the handling charges is about $77.

The $340 per tonne left over is around 80 percent, about the same as when the CWB was involved.

Farmers contract wheat at various prices. Right now the No. 2 CWRS 13.5 contract price is about $5.40 and was as low as $4.30. The report used $4.70 a bu., about $170, a tonne as an average price.

Subtracting the $170 the farmer gets in his contract from $340 leaves $170 a tonne, which, back in CWB times, would eventually end up in farmers’ pockets. If we contracted $6 a bushel — $220 a tonne — we would have $120 a tonne still to come, in CWB days.

Let us use these numbers to get an idea about what is happening. By the end of January, the Canadian Grain Commission reported nearly 10 million tonnes exported. Multiplying that number by the $170 a tonne, the CWB would have put into our pockets $1.5 billion so far this year.

If we multiply by $120, it is still over $1 billion, and the crop year is not over.

This money has gone astray. Is the word stolen too harsh a word? As a farmer, can you imagine what it would be like to get that much extra for your wheat?

If Mill were alive and heard certain politicians saying farmers are currently better off than if they still had the wheat board, he would likely say his observation still holds true today.

What makes it worse? Stephen Harper’s government hands out to farmers the odd million dollars for research, or for whatever, expecting them to vote Conservative.

It does this after getting rid of the CWB, allowing thousands of millions of dollars to be stolen from farmers.

If farmers are suckers enough to take the bait, and vote them in, does that not prove the second part of Mill’s comment?

Lorne Jackson,
Riverhurst, Sask.

MR. NICE GUY
:

There are no more public meetings to discuss farm policy and its implications. Insane farm policies are now made behind closed doors with government assisted Astroturf farm groups with little input from grassroots producers.

If any democratically based farm group opposes these policies, they get shunned and ridiculed by governments.

The insanity of the Ottawa policies pushed by a failed ostrich farmer and a slick city boy are only exceeded by their lack of respect for the truth and democracy.

Yet the Saskatchewan government has endorsed almost every nasty farm policy developed by the (Stephen) Harper government.

Starting with the loss of the single desk CWB, premier Brad Wall alongside his agriculture minister, Bob Bjornerud, stayed silent while the CWB was destroyed. They did not respect basic democratic principles enough to work with the Manitoba government in trying to convince the Harper government to allow farmers to vote on the type of system they want.

Because farmers worked together through the CWB, we had all the tools necessary to get the full value of our grain. The single desk created value for farmers selling directly to end use customers around the world — the middlemen did not take it all.

Our income was enhanced through pooling, organic sales, producer direct sales, payment options, and orderly and fair grain movement from farmgate to port to waiting ships.

This was all destroyed with a stroke of a pen while premier Wall played the nice guy with Ottawa while ignoring what was happening to farmers and others.

When does playing nice change into shortsighted cowardice? It looks like premier Wall and the Astroturf farm groups sat silent on important farm issues like the CWB and the Canadian Grain Commission, hoping to get favours and appointments or at least not face the wrath of the federal government.

I would say to premier Wall that your government’s policies remind me of a teenager who inherits a large farm and lives for the day by selling off the land. Like the foolish teenager, you have created the counterfeit of a prosperous economy.

The proof your foolish ideology is unsustainable is that your support of Ottawa has caused large financial losses to the renewable part of the Saskatchewan economy: billions of dollars lost with the single desk CWB, Indian Head tree nursery, community pastures, lost grain shipping opportunities, excessive grain company profits, etc.

Being nice to the federal government has had little benefit, unless you are still waiting and hoping for the pasta plant in Regina.

I hope, premier Wall, you would hire Danny Williams (former Newfoundland premier) to teach the so-called farm leaders and the Saskatchewan government that the people of Saskatchewan come first, not the Harper government.

Hopefully you do this before we in Saskatchewan become a have-not province.

Eric Sagan,
Melville, Sask.

AMBASSADOR WALL

As reported in the Regina Leader Post March 11, (Saskatchewan) premier (Brad) Wall is already staking his ground for what kind of job he wants from the people of Saskatchewan when he is done with politics.

He has let it be known that he wants to be an ambassador. It seems to this old farmer, ambassadors always walk around in nice clean clothes, and with clean hands, and perhaps most are waited on.

I can’t help thinking back when Brad Wall was the leader of the opposition, and he remarked on the (John) Gormley show if he ever became premier he would go to war with the unionized workers in Saskatchewan.

There are good unions in Saskatchewan that Wall is afraid to touch, like nurses and teachers, etc., but a lot of workers Wall has terminated for no good reason, and not a peep who gets the boot.

I think it is a safe bet a number of families have seen their lives become much more difficult in these good times. Is it really too difficult for the media to sniff out what is actually happening to many workers under this Wall government?

Henry Neufeld,
Waldeck, Sask.

Jean H. Sloan,