Since this blog thing has healed, I have no excuse now not to get into gear with some profound insights.
I like avoiding big issues like grain transportation. They are too complex. Lisa Guenther did a great report in the March 4 issue of Grainews.
Farmers couldn’t move grain this winter. So what were the possible causes? Was it really a weather problem? Too much winter for the railroads to handle? As Lisa notes in her column, the winter of 2013/14 isn’t the first time it snowed and got cold in Canada.
Was it just the record volume of crop to be moved to export position? There was just too much to move? Somebody had better get use to it, because I suspect we will see more large and larger crops in years to come. Maybe I should organize some investors and build a third railroad across the country. Does anyone watch that Hell on Wheels TV series? That could be a good template on how to run a business.
Was the problem due to grain companies not having their export contracts in place yet? Lots of grain but nowhere to sell it.
Or was it simply that CN and CP had other commodities to ship and just didn’t want to bother with grain and canola right now? Federal agriculture minister Gerry Ritz is now holding the feet of rail companies to the fire with legislation. Let’s get those grain cars moving.
The rail companies have a point to some extent — putting more cars on the tracks doesn’t really solve the problem if there is already a traffic jam. But I suspect if I drove just west of Calgary to the where the CP line heads into the mountains I don’t think I will be seeing bumper-to-bumper trains. If only someone could come up with an electronic brain thing that could track the movement of railcars across the country and help with scheduling. That would be of value.
All I know is that when I go farming I will just grow winter wheat so I can have it harvested and sold by the end of August and then I can take the fall off, and avoid all the elevator glut and transportation issues.
MEET THE RANCHER
Don’t know if it is brand new, or whether I just noticed today for the first time, but I received the Co-op grocery flyer with this morning’s paper and there on the front page of the flyer is a photo of a happy rancher, John Buckley of Cochrane AB, (just west of Calgary). And along with it was one of those squiggly QR Codes (quick response codes – I had to look up what they were called).
I got my cell phone, went to the QR app which I have never used, zapped the code and suddenly I was watching a video of John Buckley’s ranch. This is all part of the Canada Beef effort working with retailers to promote Canadian beef.
The little video was well done. There are actually three on the site — John and Tracy Buckley of Alberta; Donna and Carman Jackson of Inglis, Manitoba and Darcy Hrebeniuk of Hudson Bay, Saskatchewan. Each one gives you a little snapshot of their farms and how they raise beef.
They are a bit warm and fuzzy. I didn’t see a lot of dust and mud, manure on faces, bandaged fingers, trucks that won’t start, harvesting equipment in for repair, cows with pink eye, or C-section scars but maybe those are on other ranches. And maybe that wasn’t the point either. If the idea is show the consumer they are buying product from people who are committed to agriculture, concerned about the land, and pay attention to animal welfare, then they nailed it pretty good.
According to this Co-op ad, John Buckley is getting about $2.50 for each pound of hamburger and up to $7 per pound for T-bone steak. No wonder he is smiling.
Anyway, I think the www.raisedathome.ca promotion is a good idea and very good for the beef industry. It also got me using the QR reader on my cell phone, so I will be zapping those things every time I see one. Who knows what I might learn.
Lee Hart is editor of Cattleman’s Corner based in Calgary. Contact him at 403-592-1964 or by email at [email protected]