A producer speaks out on populism

“I don’t really want (my legislators) to be me, or the same as me. I want them to be better.”

That was a comment I was awarded after hosting a talk with a politician during Crop Week in Saskatoon. I had plunked myself down at a table in the audience for a quick cup of coffee and break between learning more about what to farm, how to do it better, how to make money at it and what I could do to influence farm policy.

The money topic could just as well be lessons in how to win at roulette, but I’m keen on learning about the other ones.

At farm meetings I am also always up for a conversation with a producer, and that was what a producer at the table who was a good deal grayer than I am was offering. I made some notes.

She pointed out that this “cult of the everyman, this populism thing,” has always been around and “has always been a problem.”

“As farmers, when times are good we say very little. When times are tough, we say a bit more. When times are really bad, that’s when we make some noise, but the politicians that court our votes and our money then often aren’t the ones we really need,” she said.

“Whenever people think they are having it tough they start looking for someone to blame and that is when (opportunists) step up, offering miracle cures.

“And that makes us (farmers) just like everybody else. Look at the Americans. The British wanting to exit the EU. Italy that won’t buy our wheat. All looking across a fence or a border and saying it is their fault things are so (messed) up.

“When it doesn’t rain enough, there is always somebody there to sell you a new fertilizer that can make your crop pretend it did.…

“Don’t buy it. I’ve seen a lot of crops and we’ve bought a few miracles. Better to buy a mirror and keep doing things right and wait for it to rain. Put that in your paper,” she said, got up and left.

Her husband remained silent until he finished his coffee and joined her.

“We’re from Buchanan, (Sask.), and no, you can’t have our names, but we get the paper,” he said.

So I am putting it in the paper.

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