Letters to the editor – May 22, 2014

MESS NOT SURPRISING

Re: The Nov. 29 federal court ruling.

The Friends of the former CWB went to court to charge the Conservative government of (prime minister) Stephen Harper and (agriculture minister) Gerry Ritz with expropriation of wheat board assets.

The Harper government moved to dismiss the “leave no farmer behind” case. They appointed madam justice Daniéle Tremblay-Lamer to hear the case. She no doubt gave the case a lot of thought, but … being a private person, she would not be familiar with the operations of the former CWB.

Other than on the occasions when the federal government had to pay money to make up the difference between the initial guarantee and the world price, the federal government had no skin in the game. Even the federal loan guaranties of foreign purchases were eventually all paid, and the interest payments went into federal coffers.

The ruling stated that the claims of expropriation, conversion and unjust enrichment, unlawful interference with economic relations and breach of trust all relate to the theft of the contingency fund, rail cars and the Winnipeg head office building. These were all paid for from farmers’ grain going through the monopoly for the farmers’ equity and benefit.

Even Jeff Nielson, in his rant in The Western Producer a few weeks ago, as an elected board member and having taken the oath to do the best he could do to promote the bylaws of the former CWB, would have to admit that all equity and assets the former CWB owned were paid for by the handling of farmers’ grain.

Even when there was a surplus of grain or a shipping problem arose, the former CWB made sales at world prices and took off handling charges from the pool account, leaving 80 to 85 percent for the farmers, and every farmer had the same right to deliver.

Now the multinational grain companies, backed by Stephen Harper and Gerry Ritz, are getting world price and using the rail, coast terminal congestion as an excuse to widen their basis —tookage — to only pay farmers as little as 40 percent of world prices, to the enhancement of shareholder pockets.

Ritz has found himself backed into a corner with his Freedom to Market legislation and to save face is blaming the railroads. He should have a good look at the multinational grain companies.

The railroads can only haul what the grain companies ship, and they have no central agency keeping deliveries orderly. No wonder there is such a mess on the Prairies with grain delivery, with many not having moved a bushel.

The next election I will vote ABC.

Bernie von Tettenborn,
Round Hill, Alta.

Invaluable research

What a difference reading Elaine Sloan’s diatribe; dramatic and misinformed, to then turning to Robert Arnason’s article, The search for the holy grail: nitrogen fixation in cereal crops (WP, Apr. 24).

Hopefully, Ms. Sloan will read to the end of Arnason’s piece where she’ll learn that her nemesis, Monsanto, is investing in what could be a long shot but invaluable to farmers around the globe.

Martin C. Pick,
Cavan, Ont.

Raw milk questions

The May 1 edition of the WP contains a discussion of the benefits of raw milk. Raw milk advocates suggest that there are benefits of raw milk that are lost in the pasteurization process.

What are the ingredients of raw milk that may provide benefits? (Chiara) Cerini and (Grace M.) Aldrovandi, in their article published in Medscape, suggest that there are 100,000 ingredients in breast milk.

These authors also suggest that milk has evolved over 200 million years. Milk has evolved to produce healthier infants as these milk improvements will be remembered in the genetic code. These infants fed improved milk will be more likely to survive and reproduce.

These 100,000 ingredients have to be viewed as beneficial. Negative ingredients would reduce the infant’s ability to survive and reproduce. These ingredients would be forgotten from the genetic code.

What does milk do? It grows bones, blood, intestines, brains and the other body parts. Cow’s milk grows the same body parts. The genetic code of the cow produces the cow. The genetic code of humans produces humans.

Milk contains antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory factors. Which of these would be harmed by pasteurization? The white blood cells would not survive.

Catalase is one of the 100,000 ingredients mentioned by Cerini and Aldrovandi. It is a huge molecule. Would it survive pasteurization? Milk is a complex, fragile food that cannot be improved.

Sylvie Turgeon states in the WP article that the pasteurization of milk has never been found to be a cause of chronic disease. Infant formulas are a constructed food. The American Academy of Pediatrics state in their policy statement on breast-feeding that the risk of hospitalization for lower respiratory tract infections in the first year is reduced 72 percent if infants are breast-fed exclusively for more than four months.

The AAP cite studies in nine other medical situations in which infant formulas perform significantly poorer than breastfeeding. Intelligent quotient scores also showed lower levels with infant formula use.

Dr. Sears reports that breast-fed infants have skin that is a softer smoother feel.

Margit Hamosh lists the ingredients of breast milk and an infant formula. This comparison shows that almost none of the ingredients are found on both lists.

The Harper government has re-fused to give a pathway through government testing for goat milk with vitamins to become a human milk substitute. Goat milk has changed Canadian law. This law allows the addition of folic acid to goat milk. This law stated that Canadians will benefit from goat milk use as an infant formula.

Clark Lysne,
Wetaskiwin, Alta.

MARKETING RITZ-STYLE

In the good old days before (agriculture minister) Gerry Ritz meddled in grain marketing, vessels arriving in Vancouver would receive grain from two or three terminals to complete a load. They did this without leaving the Vancouver harbour. Under the former Canadian Wheat Board, this was possible because grain from the different terminals was part of the same sale made by the board. Not anymore under Ritz’s new grain marketing system.

Now, the private grain companies are each making their own sales and ordering their own vessels. Vessels now receive a partial grain load from a terminal, then anchor back out at sea and wait for two weeks. The grain company that has made the particular sale must refill their terminal with the appropriate contracted grain before the vessel can come back to top up. This will even occur a third time so the vessel can depart Canada fully loaded.

The grain companies pass these extra costs of doing business on to farmers. This is another inefficiency that Ritz has forced into grain logistics that is costing farmers hundreds of millions of dollars.

Farmers understood the many advantages of the wheat board’s single desk marketing, and that is why they repeatedly elected directors that supported the single desk. It’s too bad that Ritz refused to allow a democratic farmer vote on his changes to grain marketing. He didn’t even take the time to understand the operations of the farmer’s single desk. He bulldozed forward without analyzing the consequences of his changes to grain marketing.

I wonder if he will ever realize or even admit that destroying the Canadian Wheat Board was a colossal error. Don’t hold your breath waiting.

Bill Woods,
Eston, Sask

Bernie von Tettenborn,