Time to look in the old mailbag again and this issue we have three letters (i. e. faxes, emails and voice-mails) from readers with thoughts on several topics. Colin and Felicity Manuel have comments about an earlier Cattleman’s Corner question, “What is the fix for the beef industry?” John Schofer called with thoughts on the need for mandatory livestock traceability; and the need for a wildlife damage compensation program in Saskatchewan was on the mind of Greg Hemmings.
For an upcoming issue, I would like to get thoughts from readers in all western provinces on the following area of discussion: Do you think your provincial livestock association is representing your interests? And/or do you think the Canadian Cattleman’s Association is representing your interests? What are they doing right? What should they be doing? Are your check off dollars being used wisely? So pick one or all of those questions and please send me your thoughts. My contact information appears in a box under the cartoon on the right hand side of this page.
Lee Hart Editor
REGARDING A BEEF INDUSTRY FIX
COLIN AND FELICITY MANUEL Rocky Mountain House, AB The poor, old beef industry
Ah, the lure of the quick fix for the beef industry… not going to happen! Sadly, we are in an industry that has become badly fractured. Every interest group and stakeholder, every breeder’s group and producers’ association is too intent on pursing its own agenda without giving enough consideration to the bigger picture. Like gophers, we have become excessively territorial — all too determined to defend our own little patch of ground.
We have adopted the gopher’s vision, too content to see only as far as our own immediate horizon. Yet, all we producers seem to agree on is one thing — what we have today is an unholy mess. How can this be when there are so many players advocating so loudly on our behalf?
We need a change in our thinking. As a society, we need to decide what it is we want agriculture to do for our country, to decide whether our land is farmland or real estate. We need to review the whole structure within which we function, firming up non-partisan food and agricultural policies that actually mean something and that look to long term rural sustain-ability. We need more leaders with vision, and politicians with the “cojones” to tell unelected lobbyists and other such interveners to seek their rightful, less overbearing place within our democracy.
As producers we simply cannot sustain grocery giants making 50 per cent markups on our product, packers who hold us to ransom with their “captive supply” of cattle inventory, and politicians and bureaucrats who like us have gopher vision and are intent only on managing the status quo. To a large extent, the capitalist business model upon which we have built our enterprises has become corrupted, not “free market” but “manipulated market.” The profit motive has been transposed by greed. When our bankers and our executives can claim, despite their bonuses, that “we’re all in this together,” we need to intervene and ask, “hold on a second, how much are you taking and how much are you contributing?” (Contributing to society, not to the Conservative Party!).
With a democracy that currently functions on only one cylinder, both provincially here in Alberta and federally in Canada, there is little to hope for. That’s why our farm is now up for sale, as recreational real estate not as an agricultural enterprise, perfect for a couple of oil baron horses to roam on! As for the big players, don’t worry too much about them, they will have diversified and taken refuge in their bank accounts and their gated communities by the time we on the land have figured it all out.
EAST-CENTRAL ALBERTA In a voice mail message, regarding the value of a mandatory livestock traceability system, John Schofer, a beef producer in east-central Alberta says:
“I am against any plans for a mandatory tracking system. The system we have now doesn’t work very well, and any new plan is just going to increase costs and those costs will be put back on the producer. I do not believe it is right. The whole system has problems and more traceability is not the answer.”
AND ABOUT LIVESTOCK COMPENSATION
GREG HEMMINGS Esterhazy, Saskatchewan
I am writing in regards to the coyote issue. There are lots of them, as well as timber wolves and cougars.
The bounty on them is okay, at least, but, only so many should be culled because coyotes do help control overpopulation of elk, moose and deer to a point. As well, the coyote helps to control a percentage of gophers, mice and rats.
But, there is an urgent need for compensation to livestock owners for loss of animals killed by predators such as coyotes, cougars, bears and timber wolves. All Saskatchewan farmers and ranchers need a livestock compensation program. It has been due for a very long time.
Manitoba has had a compensation program for all livestock owners since 1985, for all classes of livestock (including cattle, horses, pigs, and sheep).
When predators injure or kill any type of livestock, conservation officers inspect and confirm every reported incident. The Manitoba government then pays livestock owners 85 per cent of the net worth of what is deemed fair market price.
I am asking all Saskatchewan farmers and ranchers who own livestock to please write or phone their MLA as well as APAS, and all related Saskatchewan government departments to have a compensation program in Saskatchewan, similar to Manitoba’s. If Manitoba has it, so can Saskatchewan. We need it “pronto.”
MALE AND FEMALE
Here are some inanimate objects that some creative person found to have male and female characteristics — wish I had thought of these:
FREEZER BAGS: They are male, because they hold everything in, but you can see right through them.
PHOTOCOPIERS: These are female, because once turned off; it takes a while to warm them up again.
They are an effective reproductive device if the right buttons are pushed, but can also wreak havoc if you push the wrong Buttons.
TIRES: Tires are male, because