Letters to the editor – April 6, 2017

Allow ag to flourish

The 2017 Saskatchewan budget contained a number of measures that will affect our province. Tough decisions were made to manage deficits and put the brakes on future debt. Agriculture was recognized as a major driver contributing revenue when other sectors have struggled. Even with the reduction in income tax, farmers, ranchers and rural people will see substantial tax increases and service reductions.

As of last week it is more expensive to fuel, insure, replace and provide parts for this engine. Increased taxes on fuel, insurance and vehicle purchases and education taxes will cost roughly $72 million, or $2 an acre. We cannot pass added costs along, so that comes out of our pocket. The industry faces considerably lower commodity prices this year.

The budget’s shift to a consumption tax disproportionately affects agriculture. Farms and ranches are high risk ventures and rely heavily on insurance.It is not out of the ordinary for a farm to have a $100,000 in premiums; including crop, hail, building, vehicles, machinery, income and livestock coverage.  The six percent provincial sales tax on insurance is significant.

Agriculture is the engine that drives the Saskatchewan economy.  Let’s recognize that costs have increased to live and do business in the “country.” If Saskatchewan is going to see better times ahead, let’s make sure that a major economic driver is allowed to flourish. Money may not grow on trees but it does grow in the fields and ranches of this province.

Todd Lewis,
Agricultural Producers of
Saskatchewan, Gray, Sask.

Political second thoughts

The opposition party is finally standing up for Saskatchewan.

For years, I have been a proud supporter of the Saskatchewan Party because the only other alternative in this province, the Saskatchewan NDP, scared the heck out of me.

I had thought it was responsible for driving our population down, our debts up and chasing away our young. Boy, was I wrong, because, as it turns out, that’s exactly what the Brad Wall government has been most successful at since taking power less than a decade ago.

I confess, I voted for the Sask Party because I honestly thought it would stand up for my best interests. I bought into the argument that the party would look out for me, the little guy, and stop looking out only for their own — like the NDP continued to do when it came to catering to the big unions; or at least that’s what I believed.

However, in recent months, my eyes have been opened, thanks to the growing revelations on the shady land deals surrounding the entire Regina bypass.

And the budget is hands down, the most insulting, degrading, embarrassing budget handed down by a provincial government in all my time on God’s green Earth.

What Wall and his gang are effectively doing is stealing from the poor and giving to the rich. No wonder the NDP Interim Leader, Trent Wotherspoon, stood up in the legislature and labeled the budget “deceitful” six times in just one short Question Period. And, what was his reward for this? Getting booted out of the legislature for not “respecting decorum.” Really?

If Wall can’t handle the heat of actually being called into question then maybe he should get out of politics.

Maybe the NDP isn’t all that bad to begin with. After all, the low cost of living, low utility rates, low insurance rates, rainy day funds, declining total provincial debt, and actually caring about what built Saskatchewan — our crown corporations — what’s not to like?

Donald Neuls
Coppersands, Sask.

Questioning CWB’s value

Re: Saskatchewan economy? Letter by Eric Sagan, WP, March 23.

I was born a farmer’s son in the hills north of Secretan, Sask. And I am a survivor of the Canadian Wheat Board and the Great Depression.

I find the accuracy in Sagan’s article about the demise of the Canadian Wheat Board very challenging. Since cancellation of the CWB, street wheat prices have actually doubled plus. Twenty-eight years of my life was given to the grain-handling industry, under the direct control of the CWB. Comparing American post-war wheat price, smuggling across the border was inviting. Remember, there was no American wheat board to contend with.

Canadian producers and grain-handling organizations were bound by CWB laws. It was illegal to market their cereal grains outside Canada or face penalty of fines and/or a prison term, which occurred on several occasions at or near the U.S. border. Quotas were unreasonable where a bushel of over delivery made criminals of both elevator agent and producer.

Grain shipments, allocation of boxcars were directed through inefficient efforts of the board with no consideration for local conditions, over delivery and prosecution appeared first and foremost. Single-desk selling on the world market left no room for competition thus Canadian wheat was traded on the pre-war markets at fire-sale prices.

Two questions: has Sagan ever been advised upon the disposal of CWB assets, mainly the CWB building in Winnipeg? And did the CWB ever file an official disagreement with the Canadian government of cancellation of the Crow’s Nest freight agreement?

John Seierstad
Tisdale, Sask.


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