Letters to the editor – June 4, 2015

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UNETHICAL DRAINAGE

I’m a little confused.

There’s a lot of discussion of late regarding the drainage question.

Farmers have been digging, trenching, plowing, excavating and just moving dirt in general. The vast majority of this is done without the consent of the water authority, which I’ve been told, is not only unethical and immoral, but illegal.

Don’t believe this? Randomly pick someone you know has drained and ask if they have gone through the proper channels. Channels? What channels? If you get my drift.

Now, if the government puts some teeth into legislation and enforcement (including retroactive fining) things may just slow down. Until then, it is a question of conscience and we know how much of that is out there. The “me” culture is alive and well.

Many of these people draining water are neighbours and friends. Keep in mind that if they do not believe they are doing anything wrong, they immediately become adversaries when approached about it. When one is immersed in the “me” culture, rational thought goes out the window.

I raise cattle. If my cattle get out, it is my responsibility to get them back in. At my cost. If they do damage to another’s crop or property it is up to me to make it right. Mind you, one person’s damage is another’s inconvenience, but whatever it is it is usually resolved with minimal friction.

When people drain water off their land it goes somewhere. In many cases they could care less, just as long as it is gone. This water will, in many cases, erode and damage the route it takes and pool where water has historically not pooled, thus creating damage, some long term, to others who certainly did not ask for it. It’s no wonder it’s almost impossible to get drainage consent from downstream producers. They get stuck with the problem.

So the question is this: if I am on the hook for my cattle unintentionally getting out, why aren’t water drainers who do it intentionally?

Cory Noble,
Abernethy, Sask.

COOL CHANGE

Last week, I sent a letter to U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and other leaders in the U.S. House and Senate urging the expedited repeal of Country of Origin Labelling (COOL), in light of the latest ruling from the World Trade Organization.

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The Province of Saskatchewan greatly values Canada-U.S. trade relationship, in not only the livestock sector but countless other areas as well. In terms of agriculture and agri-food trade, Canada is the top export destination for the majority of U.S. states and among the top five agricultural export destinations for almost all states. In turn, Saskatchewan, the leading agri-food exporting province in all of Canada, values the United States as our top market.

The WTO has determined for the fourth time that U.S. COOL for beef and pork discriminates against Canadian cattle and hogs and violates the WTO obligations of United States. The last thing we want is for the WTO ruling to harm our relationship and the easiest way to solve the problem is to repeal COOL. Legislation passed out of the U.S. agriculture committee last week accomplishes that goal.

The repeal of COOL for beef and pork will also strengthen the integrated North American livestock sector, allowing both U.S. and Canadian agri-businesses greater efficiency and competitiveness on the world stage. At the same time, consumers will continue to enjoy safe and affordable food products.

We remain hopeful that the U.S. House and Senate will move to repeal COOL before the Canadian government is forced to impose retaliatory tariffs on goods destined to the Canadian market. The imposition of tariffs is the next step in a lengthy dispute before the WTO and we would support those measures, but would prefer the controversy be resolved by the U.S. Congress acting swiftly to repeal COOL. This will allow for the return of normalized trade in our integrated North American cattle and hog sectors.

Co-operation has underpinned our strong trading relationship throughout the years and we look forward to continuing in that vein.

Brad Wall,
Premier of Saskatchewan,
Regina, Sask.

PUNISH THE THIEVES

There are those who giveth, and there are those who taketh away, and there are those who steal.

I might be cynical in describing the actions of the two — they were and are prime minister of Canada. Both were, at one time, an MP from Calgary and both were leaders of the Conservative Party of Canada.

Richard Bedford Bennett was prime minister from 1930 to 1935. My research found he did some important things during his time in office, which was during the Great Depression.

a) He recognized that grain companies were not treating farmers right, so he put in place legislation that would give farmers a marketing system much like the fruit growers had in California.

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b) There was no way he could communicate to people over the entire country, so he set up the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission in 1932; the same communication tool that the current PM would like to shut down.

c) He set up the Bank of Canada to regulate interest rates. It seemed at the time these were all very progressive legislation, but times were so bad during the Depression he never got credit.

The other is the current prime minister, Stephen Harper, who became leader of the Conservative Party through the National Citizens Coalition, which was going to get rid of the Canadian Wheat Board. He directed agriculture minster Gerry Ritz to fire all the elected board of directors, even though the Canadian Wheat Board had become one of the world’s most well respected companies that we have in Canada and had become the world’s biggest marketer of wheat and barley.

During my tenure on the elected advisory committee, I became chairman and had the privilege of giving many presentations at the Grain Institute in Winnipeg when many of our customers were there making deals with the board.

I also hosted many of our customers out in the country so they could see the progress of the crops and be my guests at a barbecue at our farm. Of all the time that I was with our customers, I never heard one negative remark of the service they received. It was a very rewarding experience.

This was also the case during a trip to Japan and China. Japan always bought 1 CW 13.5-13 percent protein up to 1.5 million tonnes per year with one exception — they got word that U.S. grain was being trucked across the border and dumped into our elevator. They were going to Winnipeg to register the complaint.

In China, I asked to visit a discharge elevator in Shanghai. The manager recognized the Canadian Wheat Board cap I had on and said, in quite good English, “Canada Wheat good.” At that time, they were buying 3 CW as they wanted to feed as many people as they could and the price was good. Everywhere I went, they were very much aware that Canada and China signed the first wheat deal in British sterling and that the CWB was the first to recognize that China really needed food.

I read Ritz has made more than 10 trips to China. I would suggest he try to find a former Canadian Wheat board cap. It might help in trying to convince them that his private companies will provide as good a service as they were used to with the CWB.

In the latest deal, what little I know, no money changed hands. Sounds like a Mickey Mouse deal that nobody can understand.

Avery Sahl,
Former Chairman,
CWB Advisory Committee
Mossbank, Sask.

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Cory Noble,