Letters to the editor – November 26, 2020

Domestic violence requires attention

Domestic violence on the Prairies has come to a head, and we ought to talk about it.

A few weeks ago the courts convicted a woman of murdering her abusive husband in Ryley, Alta. For nearly three decades, he threw wrenches at her and yelled at the kids so often that they were afraid to return home from school.

In May, a husband murdered his wife and daughter in their rural Sherwood Park, Alta., home just before killing himself.

Jana Pruden’s book, Fear on the Family Farm, brought to life the horrors of living with an abuser in isolation.

Rural women are three times as likely to be a victim of domestic violence than women in cities. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the calls for help from women across the Prairies has only increased.

Enough is enough.

When will we start talking about our neighbour who is prone to fits of anger or the wife who we don’t see at events much anymore?

When urbanites ask about prairie life, I brag about our community and the sense of family we all create. It’s harvesting together and branding as a team. It’s fundraising for the school trip and watching the kids while the neighbour is away.

It is time to rally around the women in our town who are the victims of abuse. Women who choose to leave an abusive partner leave more than just a family unit; they have to leave a very tight-knit community.

The Prairies used to be devoid of good mental health and support resources. Then Do More Ag launched in 2017. Clearly, there was a need; the support from the agriculture and prairie community is incredible. Do More Ag is in a great position to raise awareness about the signs of harm. We need to come together as a community and get comfortable talking, asking and listening. The abuse cannot go on.

Louise Erskine (Cornell University master’s student studying women in agriculture)

Camrose, Alta.

Consumers pay price of supply management

Dairy Farmers of Canada responded to the report by Charlebois, Lemieux and Somogi by trying to emphasize the benefits to consumers of supply management.

Indeed, supply management does provide stable levels of milk pricing. However, what the DFC did not mention is that stabilization occurs at high prices. Consumers don’t benefit from consistently paying high prices — producers do.

Last month, the price for total production quota in Alberta was $46,000 per kilogram of butter fat per day, or about $4.60 per litre. This amount is a direct indicator of the returns a producer expects to generate in the same way as land values reflect the expected returns from its highest valued use.

Paying $4.60 per litre for the privilege of selling into an insulated market, assuming an eight percent annual return, works out to $0.368 per litre. For a four-litre jug of milk, this represents $1.472, or about 30 percent of the retail price, a sizable wealth transfer from consumers to milk quota holders.

Regulatory oversight in raw milk production and pricing is well past its best before date. Here is an idea: since quota value reflects the profits from milk production, when the market clearing price for quota is below some pre-set level, say $2,000 per kg of butter fat per day, then the milk board would increase producer prices. If not, then producer prices would be reduced.

It is true that current quota holders would experience a capital loss. The loss would not be trivial, and there is precedent for partial financial indemnification. Recall that western grain producers received some compensation for ending the Crow Rate — about two years worth of its value, which would be about $7,000 given the current price of quota.

A pricing system using quota values would transition milk producers in Canada away from government dependence of a sanctioned consumer subsidy toward becoming self-sustaining, internationally competitive businesses.

Elwin Smith

Lethbridge, Alta.

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