Defending agriculture

Like I’ve said before in this space, growing the crop is only half the job.

For most of us who grow crops — little like me or big like many of you — there is nothing more rewarding than those waves of healthy plants in a gusty wind, silently deafening.

The cold click of adding machine entries or hum of the desktop computer’s fan isn’t quite so inspiring.

However, that is where the money is made. The field is where it’s spent.

Then there are the details that determine whether producers get to keep doing this at all. Let’s call those public policy.

I know that most of you are getting so excited by that term that you are looking south and to the left on this page and preparing to re-read Kevin’s column about crop insurance. A story on neonicotinoids are on the next page, and below that is Kelsey’s piece on Conservative thoughts. Yup, more public policy — you can’t escape it.

And it’s that stuff that will keep us all fed into the future. Several farmer organizations have been in Ottawa the past few weeks, meeting ministers and would-be’s and the deputies who run things. They are lobbying for more trade access, improved inspection systems and maintaining a hold on the railways’ abilities to extort whatever the market — you — can bear.

Supply management folks were there defending their right to exist in the face of a giant that would end dairy and feather production as we know it in Canada and every acre of feed and the equipment and processing jobs that goes with them.

As I write this, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley is in Washington. Before her, our prime minister was there. Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau is there now.

Notley is defending $68 billion in Alberta agriculture, oil and timber exports ahead of the North American Free Trade Agreement’s re-negotiation, including a border adjustment tax and likely country-of-origin labelling.

Look around your world. Who speaks for you in America, Europe and Asia. In the days of Prairie Pools Inc. and the Canadian Wheat Board, you had some powerful voices.

We have some good folks speaking up now, but they are widely spread — and you can trust that government and industry like that.

You don’t have to agree with everything your neighbours say, but your survival and theirs may be tied to learning an old and dying language. It’s called one-voice. It can be as deafening as waves of grain.

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