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Letters To The Editor – for Nov. 10, 2008

Keeping the farm

Farmers are wise to heed Ron Settler’s advice to base farm growth on average grain prices. (See Jay Whetter’s blog entry from October 17 at www.grainews.ca or the original article on page 1 of the April 7 Grainews). Having lost the farm in 1987 by choosing to follow FCC’s recommendation to file a quit claim, I have to commend you on republishing Mr. Settler’s article. It was a traumatic experience seeing over 20 years of hard work go “down the drain” as we moved off the farm and into town.

Fifteen years later I have re-entered agriculture as a hay grower and I am thoroughly enjoying it. While I am operating on borrowed financing and rented land, just the thrill of getting back on the fields again has been very therapeutic. It can be very difficult for the farmer to try to adjust to an urban way of living and generating income.

After burning out in pastoral ministry and going into depression in 2002, I found my way back to the farm. While it hasn’t been easy financially, it has been good physically and psychologically. I really encourage the readers of Ron Settler’s article to take his advice to heart. It just might spare someone the despair that we went through as a result of our demise in the ’80s.

Don Allan Sylvan Lake, Alta.

ABP vs. cow-calf producers

Alberta Beef Producers (ABP) have been very vocal in recent months demonstrating their opposition to the Alberta Livestock and Meat Strategy (ALMS) announced by Agriculture Minister Groeneveld in June. ABP are claiming to be the champions of cow-calf producer interests so perhaps with the annual fall producer meetings of ABP just around the corner, it would be worth reviewing their performance over the last year.

As producers sold their calves last fall into the worst market (adjusted for inflation) since the great depression, ABP handed out a leaflet telling cow-calf producers that they were lucky the feedlots were prepared to offer them such high prices! When the ABP Annual General Meeting in Calgary came around in December it was further demonstrated how low the interests of cow-calf producers were on the ABP agenda. Once again two producer resolutions calling for a ban on packer ownership of cattle and a further resolution to allow BSE testing were roundly defeated.

Beginning in November, due to the crisis facing producers, Minister Groeneveld convened a working group of representatives from the ABP, Western Stockgrowers Association, Beef Initiative Group, Alberta Cattle Feeders Association and the Feeders Associations of Alberta. This working group was known as the B5 group although in reality it was the B4 group because the ABP’s sole contribution appeared to be stalling and opposing any progress the group tried to make.

It is clear from the performance record outlined above that ABP has not represented the interests of primary beef producers and I would suggest that the ABP’s opposition to the ALMS is more a campaign of distraction to avert producer calls for better representation and a change to the current levy distribution.

I ask that producers raise the following resolution at every ABP fall producer meeting in the province. “Be it resolved that the levy currently collected and used to fund ABP become a directional levy whereby producers can allocate it to the producer organisation of their choice.” Time spent bemoaning the introduction of the ALMS is time wasted. The ALMS will be introduced and producers interests are currently being better served by organisations like the Western Stockgrowers Association, Beef Initiative Group, Alberta Cattle Feeders Association, Feeders Associations of Alberta and the National Farmers Union who have all pledged to work with the Minister and have a hand in developing and implementing the ALMS.

Iain Aitken Rimbey, Alta.

A real communist state

The editor should have omitted the last sentence in Christoph Weder’s column on page 27 of the October 6 Grainews. I don’t appreciate being called a communist just because I live in Saskatchewan. That’s going too far.

I was evicted from my native Czechoslovakia in 1945, and luckily we ended up in West Germany. My uncle in St. Brieux, Sask., then paid to bring us over to Saskatchewan in 1948. I was a teenager during this whole period, but I do remember what it was like to experience actual communism. Anyone who lived in Eastern Europe after World War II knows what a “communist state” is really like and won’t appreciate Weder’s comparison.

Ernest M. Bittner Carrot River, Sask.

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