Letters to the editor – November 23, 2017

Women ready to participate

Re: Special Report “Getting on Board”

I am a farm-raised woman who resides in southwestern Saskatchewan. I currently grain farm and raise cattle full time.

A special report on women in agricultural governance entitled “Getting on Board” was published in the Nov. 9 issue of The Western Producer. This report states that while almost 30 percent of farm operators in Canada are female, only 12 percent of the board members of organizations with check-off programs on the Prairies are women.

Just prior to this Nov. 9 issue, Kevin Hursh, a regular contributor to The Western Producer, published an opinion piece in the Star Phoenix regarding women’s participation in agriculture. I am concerned by the message promoted by Hursh in that column and by some of the content in the special report in The Western Producer.

In Hursh’s article, he claims that women “just aren’t interested in rural municipal politics or one of the many crop commissions” and furthermore that “many women don’t have the time, or that isn’t where their interests and/or priorities lie.”

These statements are not only inaccurate but also dangerous, as they allow people like Hursh to overlook the barriers that exclude women from decision-making in agriculture and instead, encourage individuals in power to maintain gender disparity with impunity.

In The Western Producer Special Report, Kevin Bender, the chair of the Alberta Wheat Commission, suggests that farm women are not real farmers but instead play a support role on the farm.

Actually, women hold diverse positions on farms in Western Canada, ranging from meal maker and part runner to agronomist, grass manager, water and soil specialist, grain marketer and machine operator. Any one of these women is eligible for a position in agricultural governance.

Any one of these women is a farmer. It is not Bender’s responsibility to decide what women do on prairie farms or whether or not a woman can contribute to a board in a meaningful way. Women can determine their capacities for themselves.

It is time for the leaders in agriculture to see the absence of women for what it is — a gender discrimination that restricts women from owning and operating farm businesses and prevents women from directing the course of one of the most important industries in this country.

We need to examine this problem and work together to get the gender balance of primary producers and of agricultural boards up to an even split. If we acknowledge that women hold diverse perspectives and priorities, we must also realize that decision-making without them is like steering a boat with only one rudder.

As an effort towards becoming an anti-discriminatory organization, my suggestion to agricultural organizations is that they make a board-level resolution to have women fill 30 percent, if not 50 percent, of their board positions.

It will be easy for these boards to achieve gender parity and excellence at the same time as there are so many amazing women working in agriculture. We are at the Women in Agriculture events, so it will be easy to find us.

We are here. We are ready. We are waiting.

Karlah Rae Rudolph,
Gull Lake, Sask.

Province needs STC

A recent letter I received from Premier Brad Wall’s office stating that, “In the last three elections we promised not to privatize the Crown corporations.  We have listened.  Bill 40 will be repealed.”

However, only a portion of Bill 40 was repealed.  The part that allows for the destruction of the Saskatchewan Transportation Company was left intact.

In the last three elections, Wall also promised to maintain the operation of STC.  Why is this election promise being ignored?

With STC in operation, private carriers had to align their freight charges with STC rates.  STC rates were charged according to the weight of the item and the size of the item.  Private carriers charged according to weight, size, and distance.

Without STC in operation,  private carriers are free to charge inflated rates for freight to all customers, including government departments. Blood services,  lab tests, water tests, library books and the transportation of social services clients, cancer patients, mental health clients — how many government departments are paying the private carriers?

The Sask Party and Wall have set up a system that directly subsidizes private carriers at unknown costs using taxpayers’ money.

I would suggest that the real subsidy paid to maintain STC is comparable to what is now being given as a direct gift to private carriers.  With these “gifts” being filtered through government departments,  the taxpayer has no way of finding out the true cost of the loss of STC.

STC provided safe, reliable, efficient transportation of freight and passengers.

That is something the private system cannot replicate.  That needs to be provided to all citizens of Saskatchewan through a government-subsidized transportation system.  It makes good economic sense.

Give STC back to the people of Saskatchewan.

L.E. Reimer 
North Battleford, Sask. 

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