Letters to the editor – May 9, 2019

Grain code of practice a waste of time

Re: “Time for a code of practice for grain,” op-ed by Cereals Canada President Cam Dahl, (WP, April 4).

We have and will continue to have “imposed requirements,” whether we have a code of practice or not. Sustainable beef production certification, as an example, has done nothing to increase access to the European markets that demanded it. Supply and demand will always prevail when dictating trade. The China issue on canola, or India on pulses, or Italy on durum, are based on the fact that they don’t need or want our product at the price it is being offered.

Attaching a “grown sustainably” certificate won’t mean anything unless they need the product at the price it is available.

Some of the technology that we use as farmers, such as pesticides and GMOs, have drawn the ire of ill-informed consumers.

The multinationals that profit immensely from these technologies want all farmers to educate consumers that there is nothing wrong with this technology — educate and certify ourselves as sustainable.

Was glyphosate, as an example, developed because farmers demanded it, or did a company invest R&D to develop it because it identified a need with an attached opportunity to make a pile of cash?

We, as farmers, don’t know for certain that some of these technologies aren’t damaging the environment or ourselves. We use them because they are available and sometimes increase our odds of staying in business.

If they weren’t available, as was the case for many years, the land would be growing something, and one or more of our trade partners would likely have an issue to try and get our product cheaper, and on we would go.

As Dahl stated, most farmers operate in a sustainable fashion. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t have a business. Bogging people down with the notion that a certification will somehow benefit them is a waste of time. It will employ people and get people excited that they are making a difference, but little else.

Where are these customers that would be willing to consistently pay more for a bulk commodity product grown under a “code of practice?” Experienced farmers are growing tired of being fear-mongered into doing things with no economic benefit. We spend far too many resources insuring against things that don’t happen.

As an experiment to prove this true, get the registration for pre-harvest glyphosate on durum cancelled for all of Canada and see if Italy rushes back to buy Canadian durum.

Or better yet, see if the domestic price of durum goes and stays up.

Joe Rowbottom
Drumheller, Alta.

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