Letters to the editor – June 20, 2013

DON’T DEREGULATE

Re:  “Supply management also hurts farmers” (op-ed, May 10 WP).

Eric Merkley made some interesting comments regarding supply management in his piece. It’s obnoxiously clear that Merkley doesn’t understand the complexities that exist in the agriculture, and specifically the dairy, industry.

Supply management stands up well to others around the world. It offers predictability and stability for our 12,000 dairy farmers across Canada versus the alternative of wild price swings for farmers who may make a profit one year and risk going bankrupt the next. The governments in those countries then pay billions, in some situations, of taxpayer money towards bailouts while dairy prices are comparable or higher than Canada’s.

One point of concern Merkley discusses is New Zealand’s and Australia’s deregulated market, in which he claims is a preferred approach. He failed to mention that in both countries, deregulation has fallen short for the farmer and the consumer.

In New Zealand, farmers must buy shares in a co-operative to sell their milk, while the retail milk prices are higher today than in Canada. As for Australia, after deregulating, its milk farm prices began to fluctuate immediately. An initial retail price drop was followed by steady increases, which were accentuated by a tax levied to help farmers struggling with the transition.

The end result of deregulation: prices are no better for consumers and often their tax money then goes towards farmer subsidies.

He also alludes to a “leaked trade memo” on the EU-Canada trade talks, where he says we are holding up the agreement. I think we’ll leave our predictions to the actual negotiators, rather than some rumoured piece of information.…

What can be credibly sourced and disproven is his claim that Canada has had to “give up potential gains for other export-orientated industries” in trade negotiations for supply management. All countries have their sensitivities. Within the Canada-EU agreement, many of the sensitivities are outside of the agriculture sector.

I encourage Merkley to go back to the drawing table and have another look at why supply management works for farmers.

Cornel Van Klooster, dairy producer,
Olds, Alta.

ENOUGH ETHANOL

On behalf of the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association, I would like to respond to the article, “U.S. corn making much of Canada’s ethanol” posted on The Western Producer website May 17.

To simply suggest that Canada’s ethanol mandate is being met by American imports is inaccurate and flawed. Canadian ethanol plants are producing almost two billion litres of ethanol a year, and depending on seasonality, produce enough ethanol to meet our domestic renewable content requirements. Imports from the United States go specifically to over compliance with the federal regulation.

The reason for these imports are primarily based on the price of ethanol when compared to gasoline, which is routinely 20 cents per litre less expensive and can be blended at levels well beyond the current content requirements of five percent.

In meeting our renewable content requirements, Canada’s fleet of first generation ethanol plants are providing a unique platform for the integration and commercialization of a wide range of advanced agri-processing and next generation feedstock technologies.

Our members are at the forefront of these emerging technologies, essentially turning today’s grain ethanol plants into the biorefineries of tomorrow, increasing the efficiency of domestic production of ethanol along the way.

Without question, our open North American fuels market allows for cross border trade, including ethanol imports from the United States. However, as demonstrated by our industry’s steady and continued growth since the renewable fuels regulation was introduced, Canadian producers have more than enough capacity to comply with domestic mandates.

In Canada, our renewable fuels industry is, and continues to be, a success story, hard at work across the country. Ensuring stable market conditions through domestic mandates remains the best way forward in ensuring Canada keeps pace with our neighbours and enjoys the economic benefits for renewable fuels production where it matters for us most — here at home.

W. Scott Thurlow, president,
Canadian Renewable Fuels
Association, Ottawa, Ont.

IS SARM STILL NEEDED?

The proposed federal electoral boundary changes raised some concerns from Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities president David Marit.

The majority report of the boundary commission suggested three strictly urban seats in Saskatoon, two in Regina and one blended rural urban seat in Regina. The remaining eight seats would essentially be rural ridings.

As a rural person, I think the idea of a rural riding is a good idea. The challenges and opportunities in a rural riding are different than those in an urban riding. It would be good to have an MP who could strictly focus on rural issues and not have these issues blended into urban issues.

However, the only minority report on this proposal came from David Marit, president of SARM. It would seem strange that the president of this organization would not want to have MPs devoted entirely to rural issues in Saskatchewan.

His logic is that there are still family and cultural connections between the cities and their rural communities. If Mr. Marit truly believes in this, then he should be leading the charge to modernize SARM and step aside to allow the Saskatchewan Urban Municipal Association to represent all residents in the province.

Dave Marit perhaps will not need to worry about boundary changes though. With the (prime minister Stephen) Harper government intent on attacking all sectors of our society with their insane policies, they should defeat themselves in the next election.

Eric Sagan,
Melville, Sask.

RESEARCH AGENDA

Recently, I chanced to attend an information and screening session at the Frances Morrison library in Saskatoon, sponsored by the Green Party of Canada-Saskatchewan. An informative presentation was followed by lively discussion surrounding the inexorable push for the world to be able to consume anything it likes so long as its pedigree is GMO, compliments of Monsanto.

The French-German-Canadian joint production, The World According to Monsanto, laid to rest many of the questions raised by the audience. Unlike many exposés, which often fail to give a balanced objective read, Monsanto had numerous opportunities to provide and did state its case in several instances. In others, it opted for no comment.

What became more clear to this viewer during screening was that Monsanto, of its own admission, has a research agenda whose ultimate objective is not simply to market the means for producing “unique designer” food….

What Monsanto really desires and means to do is to achieve nothing less than sole and exclusive ownership of not only the means of production but the substance of production.

By reducing biodiversity of staple crops that the world relies on for consumption, by buying or gaining control of its competition as well as by utilizing the legal expedient of applying to patent those crops whose seeds its scientists have specially bio-engineered to repel and resist the ravages peculiar to its cultivation, Monsanto will hold effectively the key to sustainability….

What cinched it for me that something sinister is underfoot was a recently published article in the Wall Street Journal wherein genetically modified corn seeds introduced by Monsanto in 2003 in the United States are now beginning to lose their effectiveness against the corn rootworm.

A sobering lesson for Monsanto, that not even with all the research and technology amassed can their seeds resist for all time all possible kinds of depredation…

The (Saskatchewan premier Brad) Wall government’s funding of the Global Institute for Food Security raises serious questions, particularly with some of the institute’s key personnel having clear links with the agri-food industry, notably Monsanto.

For this citizen and consumer, it casts a sinister shadow over the future of “food security” in Saskatchewan as we know it….

Randy Fleming,
Saskatoon, Sask.

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