Letters to the editor – December 6, 2018

Supply management key to chicken industry

Re: “Has Chicken Industry Lost Out?” WP, Nov. 15.

No, the Canadian chicken industry has not lost out. In fact, it continues to gain. Chicken continues to be the first choice of Canadians. Per capita consumption grew again this past year, for the fourth year in a row.

Overall, production grew by five percent in 2017. Since 2012, the Canadian chicken industry has grown by 12 percent. That growth is expected to continue as 86 percent of Canadian shoppers buy and make chicken meals at home at least once a week and 25 percent of them are consuming more chicken than last year.

Supply management farmers earn 100 percent of their income from the market and do not rely on the subsidies or periodic bailouts. Supply management generates over 348,000 agriculture and agri-food jobs in the production and processing of chicken, eggs, turkey and dairy products. Combined, these five sectors contribute $29.6 billion to Canada’s gross domestic product and over $6.9 billion in tax revenues to the government.

Over 90 percent of Canadians believe that supply management is important for Canada’s dairy, poultry and egg farmers and that it is important for the government to support them. Given the contributions that supply management makes to the economy, food safety, animal care and research, it makes great sense to preserve it.

Michael Laliberte
Executive Director
Chicken Farmers of Canada

Ritz being named to the wrong hall

Re: Ritz earned entry into the agriculture Hall of fame.

Alberta Wheat Commission Chair Kevin Bender stated in a letter to The Western Producer, “Many have suggested that Gerry Ritz is among the best, if not the best agriculture minister Canada has ever had.”

Ritz did accomplish something huge and that was the dismantling of the CWB after many years and millions of dollars spent by the powerful merchants of grain trying to do just, that by a trade distorting charge. The adjudicating body (World Trade Organization, General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) continued to rule that there was nothing trade distorting by the board, therefore refusing their attempts.

Then came the Harper majority government who, with one stroke of the pen, changed the law protecting this institution with no mandate from the board of directors and no specific vote by the farmers affected. This move gave this valued marketing tool away to Saudi Arabia and American operations.

Ritz ran around the country spinning tales of how farmers wanted this, ignoring the fact that eight of the 10 farmer board of directors continually got elected on a single desk platform.

There was widespread support for the board, and on at least one occasion, a board member who had been elected on an open market platform changed his mind when he got into the books in Winnipeg.

Let there be no mistake about it, they knew that if they held a plebiscite, the affected farmers would vote to maintain the board. When it came to farmer assets, there was no attempt to calculate and return whatever that might be. To my knowledge there is still an active court case concerning this.

Therefore, my choice would be to enter him into the hall of shame.

Boyd Denny

Saskatoon

Let farmers vote on Ritz in hall of fame

I have followed the discussions on whether former agriculture minister Gerry Ritz should be in the Agriculture Hall of Fame with great interest.

Here is a suggestion: how about we let farmers vote on a decision? I can’t recall how many times Ritz promised that no substantial changes to the CWB would be made without a farmer vote.

It is now obvious that the changes were substantial, and there was no farmer vote.

It would serve several interests to have this vote. Farmers might feel listened to and they might feel that their input has value, two things of vital interest in a democracy.

It would indeed be poetic justice if farmers voted not to have Ritz in the Ag. Hall of Fame after he refused them a vote on an issue of vital interest to them. 

Horst Schreiber
Ohaton, Alta.

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