Letters to the editor – November 12, 2020

AgriStability comments make no sense

Kevin Hursh’s opinion piece about AgriStability in the Oct. 29 issue of The Western Producer makes no sense and is infuriating because he seems to want to pit farmers against each other by taking AgriStability benefits away from grain farmers and giving them, instead, to hog and livestock farmers.

Hursh’s proposal is exactly backwards to that used across the open border with the U.S. because the United States lavishly subsidizes its grain farmers who, in turn, “subsidize” hog and livestock farmers with much-cheaper grain than would otherwise be the case.

Hursh’s proposal would see Canada’s hog and livestock farmers become absolutely better off than their U.S. counterparts while Canada’s corn and soybean farmers, concentrated in southwestern Ontario, would end up even worse off in comparison to our U.S. counterparts than we are now, thereby creating multiple levels and layers of discontent and resentment in the farm community — in short, a powder keg with a very short fuse.

What’s worse is that Hursh doesn’t seem to understand that many U.S. hog farmers benefit substantially from the grain subsidies they receive for the crops they grow on their own farms. It’s tragic that Hursh can’t seem to see that grain subsidies similar to those in the U.S. would provide more help to Canadian hog farmers than an AgriStability program, at any level of coverage.

Secondly, Hursh’s apparent belief that Canadian grain farmers don’t need AgriStability because we have crop insurance also makes no sense. Crop insurance is designed to cover yield losses rather than low prices created in another jurisdiction because their producers, thanks to huge subsidies, have no incentive or reason to reduce production in order to help raise prices here.

Furthermore, Hursh doesn’t seem to realize that crop insurance provides benefits in times of high prices as well as in times of low prices, thereby making crop insurance a blundering and completely inept way of mitigating non-yield related, systemic farm income inadequacies, especially when these inadequacies are created by policies enacted on the other side of an open border.

In the final analysis, however, Mr. Hursh seems to be trapped inside some sort of bubble because even if his comments made sense in Western Canada, and there’s no way that pitting grain and livestock farmers against each other ever makes sense anywhere, his comments make absolutely no sense at all east of Manitoba.

Stephen Thompson,

Clinton, Ont.

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