Letters to the editor – February 2, 2017

Overproduction in EU

I received a Christmas card from a dairy farmer I worked for 60 years ago in England. In that card he related some of the drawbacks of trading with, or belonging to, the European Union. In nine months of 2016, the price of milk at the gate went from 34 p (54 cents Cdn) down to 17 p (27 cents) per litre. Because of this, many smaller farmers have been unable to survive. He is only surviving because his herd is large and he has been on the same farm for over 70 years.

The reason for these huge reductions in price is the massive overproduction of other countries in the EU. As an example, France has only 5.4 percent of the population of the EU, while France takes 47 percent of the EU budget for agriculture. These subsidies have allowed the French dairy farmers to be inefficient, to overproduce and make a good living.

As we have signed a trade agreement with the EU, Canadian dairy farmers will be exposed to this same level of uneven competition. I foresee large increases in imports of cheese, powdered milk and other milk byproducts. The French farmers have attained these subsidies by having protests with tens of thousands of farmers attending (the squeaky wheel get the subsidies).

Do farmers really know what’s in this trade agreement?

Mervyn Coles,
Victoria, B.C

Flag photo offensive

Let me begin by expressing my appreciation for the newspaper that you and your staff work so diligently at producing on a weekly basis. There is no doubt in my mind that the amount of time and research that goes into your publication is first class.

While I appreciate your editorial efforts, I take offence at the lack of concern for the pictures that are occasionally published without due care. One such example is a picture that was published in your Jan. 12, 2017, publication. On page 4 of this edition a picture has been included as a part of the article of the most pathetic pictures that I have ever seen of our flag. I know as Canadians we have a tendency to not display a great deal of respect for our flag but I think it would be wise to not emphasize this fact in your publications.

I grew up in an era where our flag was respected. Part of our responsibilities as students in our school was to raise the flag in the morning and fly it while school was in session. At the end of the day, the flag was lowered and taken inside where it was carefully folded and put in its designated spot until the next school day. I’m dating myself here when I say that it began with the Union Jack, but when our new flag was brought in, our teacher did her best to teach us to have the same respect for our countries symbol.

Possibly this is why I take such offence at people who treat our flag with such contempt. In my opinion when a picture is placed in publication, such as you have done, it speaks of the same disregard. Perhaps a little vigilance on the part of your editors would be in line.

Wendell W. Bailey
Gravelbourg, Sask.

Editor’s note: The photo, taken in southern Alberta, was intended to establish the force of the wind farmers had to deal with. The picture was headlined, “Canadian weather at work,” and was accompanied with information that explained winds had hit up to 100 km-h and was “quick to destroy flags and move anything that isn’t heavy or nailed down.” At the Western Producer, we too, respect Canada’s flag. We thought the photo served to illustrate the challenges farmers faced with recent winds, and was in no way intended to denigrate the flag.

Trudeau tricked twice

It was interesting to see Prime Minister Trudeau use his father’s good will with China to beg, on behalf of the Canadian canola industry, to keep sending canola to China with 2.5 percent dockage. Almost all farmers and most people in the grain industry know the grain companies deliberately add dockage into the canola shipments. This is a real money maker for the grain companies. They deduct the dockage when farmers deliver to their facilities and then add it to the export shipments. Thereby, essentially double dipping.

When I speak with farmers in my area they indicate that, on average, their dockage runs approximately 1.5 percent. On an average for a 30,000-tonne shipment, that would equate to at least an additional $136,000 on each shipment for the grain company.

It’s also really quite amazing that a prime minister would lobby a foreign country to accept additional impurities in a product that Canada was exporting.

It was even more astonishing that the prime minister would then appoint the point person from the Canola Council of Canada who was promoting this crazy trade policy, to a key government regulatory body — the Canadian Grain Commission. But in fact, Patti Miller, president of the Canola Council of Canada, was appointed chief grain commissioner of the Canadian Grain Commission. Miller’s canola council is an organization with little representation from farmers on its board, but a majority of industry members. She also worked for Cargill grain. It’s hard to understand how she can lead the grain commission when its legal mandate is to operate, “in the best interests of producers,” but it is less of a surprise when one knows that the previous head of the grain commission went to Cargill right after his term with the commission ended. Does this really highlight who the prime minister thinks the grain commission needs to work for?

Eric Sagan
Melville, Sask.

Time to cut financial ties

With the recent decision by the British Columbia governing party to remove the stipend received by its premier from its donors, Saskatchewan has the dubious distinction of being the lone wolf when it comes to direct financial ties to party sponsors.

With a government that has had a questionable financial record as of late, it is about time that Premier Brad Wall makes the hard decision to cut any and all financial ties to party donors. It would help to alleviate the very serious concerns and allegations surrounding the growing scandal that involves land transactions and the Regina Bypass.

Until such time that Wall ends these ties, Saskatchewan residents will continue to question which interests this premier is looking out for – those of his party’s supporters or those of all Saskatchewan residents, regardless of political or financial affiliation with the Saskatchewan Party.

It would also help to show that he is willing to fall on the sword, financially, when it comes time to make those hard financial decisions.

Surely, losing the $40,000 stipend would be a hard pill to swallow for Wall on a personal level, but it would be a sign of good faith to show all Saskatchewan residents that he is the first to take any kind of cuts in hard financial times.

Donald Neuls
Coppersands, Sask.

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