Use vote to speak up
(With a federal election campaign underway) it is time to take stock of one particular Conservative policy that has had a significant impact on Western Canadian grain farmers.
When Stephen Harper was head of the Citizen’s Coalition he made it clear that the single desk of the Canadian Wheat Board would be under attack if he ever got the chance to do it.
Once he formed his first minority government, Gerry Ritz and David Anderson, did everything they could to undermine the Board and reduce its capacity.
Though he had promised a producer vote, when Harper finally got his majority, he struck.
You would think that after decades of wishing for the Board’s demise he would have had a plan. Sadly, he did not.
The bumper crop of 2013 proved his lack of foresight as transportation issues led to record disparities between grain prices on the West Coast and prices received by farmers. Richard Gray of the University of Saskatchewan estimated losses to producers during crop year 2013-14 at three billion dollars, with a subsequent loss in 2014-15 of two billion.
Until its demise, the Canadian Wheat Board had regulated grain flow so that supply on the Prairies matched sales on the coast.
But in 2013 the mayhem of unregulated grain flow led to unprecedented lineups of grain vessels in Vancouver and Prince Rupert.
Grain companies cashed in on the price differential as those farmers willing to take less for their product shipped their grain at a discount.
The maximum rail entitlement kept rail line incomes in line, but now CP Rail wants the cap re-moved. This would in effect transfer windfall grain company profits to the rail lines, all on the back of the farmer.
It is time farmers spoke up at the polls, but will the loss of regulated grain flow and billions of dollars wake them up?
Warnings about the Conservative policy on grain movement fell on deaf ears.
Will the results of their folly finally bring an end to the Conservative monopoly on rural Saskatchewan seats?
The Oct. 19 election will tell the tale.
Cost of dairy quota
I would like to comment on Wayne Zimmerman’s letter “Keep Supply Management.”
I agree that the dairy industry should be self-sufficient. I also agree that the dairy people should expect a reasonable profit.
I disagree with the idea that the consumers should have to pay for milk production quotas over and over. Our neighbours south of the border pay one-half to two thirds of our cost for dairy products.
Their dairy industry doesn’t have to pay $3 million for the right to milk 100 cows.
Mr. Zimmerman, while we are being honest about informing the public, maybe you could tell us what you paid for your production quota, what you estimate its value to be now, and what possible value that brings to the consumer.
Fort St John, B.C.