What agriculture needs from Santa this year

It’s customary at this time of year to make a Christmas list, but we won’t ask Santa Claus to put our suggestions in farmers’ stockings. That would be reaching. Besides, Santa isn’t really a fixer. We’ll just call this an appeal to get his elves on the case.

You know producers have been good citizens this year because they’re dutifully producing food despite making 41 percent less money than last year.

We did mean to thank you, Santa, for popping down from the North Pole last year to update the Advanced Cash Payments program — a sort of Christmas-in-July-in-May — but there is still a bit of a hole in that bucket, so if you could just ask one of your more handy elves to have a look at it, that would be great.

About this carbon thing. We appreciate that you might feel the need to weigh in on climate change since your home is melting, but we understand it’s not an elf specialty, so you are contracting out oversight to a fellow named Justin. Whatever. But can you give him a gift card for professional coaching on how to make it happen without penalizing farmers who are already doing their thing to make it happen? (You can spare Justin the lump of coal, though; it sends the wrong message.)

Now, Canadian farmers are mushing-on, despite the weather (no, we’re not going to ask) and geo-political issues. You can help with some adjustments to what we call our business risk management programs — check with the accounting elf if you need an explanation. In particular, the Grinch changed our AgriStability rules a few years back to reduce coverage limits; if you could see about that, there would be some extra oats on the roof for the reindeer.

If you need suggestions on the other programs, Saskatchewan’s producer organization, APAS, has a nice list. We’ve checked it twice. It’s good.

It’s possible you heard us chatting about this as we were making our list and you may have already given Justin a little red grain truck to get things going during their milk and cookie gathering in Ottawa Dec. 17, but it never hurts to make the list comprehensive.

Now, while you’re over in China — don’t grimace, Santa, you knew this was coming — perhaps you can have a chat with your jolly compatriot, Shen Dan Lao Ren, about this canola embargo. We know he doesn’t have much pull over there, but it’s worth a try. (Hint: Chat with ambassador Dominic Barton on how to do this. It might not be wise to leave footprints in the snow.)

As you know, Santa, we love animals, and we take good care of them. We have to, because we know you’re watching.

So these new livestock transportation rules… hmmm… we understand the concern, but thank you for the delay while the big thinkers find out what really works. This might all be a bit confusing to you, Santa, since you have to stop running those reindeer in 24 hours, rather than 36, but trust us on this one.

Now, some people have been saying nasty things about farm practices, including the use of a certain roundup of molecules, which actually helps farmers to feed the world. We trust you will not be visiting those folks this year. Canada has a nice piece of paper on this, explaining everything. Perhaps you can place that paper under every tree so people have a better understanding of how responsible farmers do things. You can start in the schools. Those young’uns are interested in food, but we must make sure they’re taught real science in class.

We understand this list isn’t something for a workshop Santa, but magic does happen at Christmas.

And speaking of Christmas, you and Mrs. Claus do have a merry one!

Karen Briere, Bruce Dyck, Barb Glen, Brian MacLeod and Michael Raine collaborate in the writing of Western Producer editorials.

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