Letters to the editor – March 28, 2019

Farm water strategy has major faults

Re: Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says the provincial government will invest $5 million in farm water management strategy.

The provincial government news release is disingenuous to say the least. It is mentioned that farmers will receive monies for improving land and crop production values while resolving the impact on downstream communities and the environment. This is only partially true.

The environmental mitigation will be for peak water flows; actual engineering reports state that the overall amount of water downstream will increase by more than 200 percent in some and more than 400 percent in others.

There is no mitigation for the impacts to water quality, loss of groundwater infiltration, fish and wildlife habitat and carbon sequestration. The provincial government and the proponents of these drainage networks are hiding these key facts.

It states the provincial government is “working with hundreds of landowners on more than 20 organized drainage projects making up over 200,000 acres” right now. Many more are proposed and all without a meaningful environmental impact review or mitigation. The accumulated effects of all this agricultural drainage are not being considered. Also, there has been no public consultation or consultation with First Nations or Metis communities.

Farmers have an ongoing “social licence” to produce the food for us to eat while limiting our environmental impacts; the blanket degradation of our environment will ultimately result in the loss of that licence. The few who benefit will cost all us farmers.

The antics of misinformation and political spin to further individual interests ahead of the public interest have not gone unnoticed.

Jeff Olson
Citizens Environmental Alliance
Theodore, Sask.

Memories of protest on Parliament Hill

Re: Protests on Parliament Hill, Ottawa.

It was 19 years ago when I travelled from Dawson Creek, B.C., by combine, taking seven weeks. The Western Producer and CBC covered the journey.

I was planning to contact The Western Producer in a year’s time (20-year anniversary), but this recent event on the Hill prompted me now.

Prime Minster Jean Chretien was 67 years old in 2000. I was then 52 years old. My combine, Prairie Belle, is in Saskatchewan at the Wadena Museum.

I am writing this as a result of the pro-pipeline convoy from Red Deer, Alta., to Ottawa last month.

I believe their message was weakened by other groups — immigration wanting their say also and tagging along.

Conservative party leader Andrew Scheer was prepared to speak on the Hill, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was unwilling to show his face after all the effort.

Mine was a solo journey in the winter of 2000 to highlight agriculture’s problems and the hurt to family farming at that time and in previous years. I garnered much publicity along my seven-week journey and agricultural support, including in Ontario.

I arrived on Parliament Hill and was greeted by Preston Manning, who was the leader of the opposition. I had meetings in the Parliament buildings with dignitaries, but not Chretien — the man I wished to see. I was asked to move my combine off the Hill, but declined until I had a meeting with Chretien.

Within a short while a meeting was arranged at 24 Sussex Drive with Chretien, and a farmer removed my combine from the Hill.

Many farmers from out West came to meet me on the Hill and meetings with bureaucrats lasted days. It was mostly a positive atmosphere.

I met with MP Wayne Easter in Prince Edward Island a few years later and he assured me, as he was in Chretien’s cabinet, that my journey was well worthwhile and that I made considerable difference to future government farm programs such as the Net Income Stabilization Account, AgriStability and Agriinvest.

I am now retired to an acreage near Salmon Arm, B.C., but as the old saying goes, you can take the farm from the man but not the man from the farm. With all the ups and downs farming brings, my 50 long years farming and custom farming were very rewarding and memorable.

Nick Parsons
Salmon Arm, B.C.

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