The Unhappy Harvest of 2002

FTLComm - Tisdale - Saturday, August 24, 2002

Though combines have marched out into the fields in many parts of the province it was not until this week that the harvest of 2002, if indeed we will think of it as a harvest, actually began in earnest. We have noted that a good looking field, one of the few in the area just East of town has already been down and in the Weekes area were there is crop to be taken in the process began on Tuesday.

On Friday I went to Prince Albert and back and in all that distance saw two combines at work.

This field shown here is just West of Star City.

But form most farmers there really is nothing in their fields to engage the work of their combines. The dehydration plant is working around the clock processing green feed from unusable grain crops while many fields will be simply sprayed, putting down all growth and left for next year's crop.

Some farmers are already seeding winter wheat and there are many fields that have been worked up as farmers have turned under what little grew.

This morning the CBC announced that on his three hour visit to the prairies federal minister of agriculture proclaimed that money was on the way to help the prairies which are experiencing the worst drought since records have been kept. He stated that $175,000,000 would be going to Saskatchewan farmers through an existing programme. This immediately brought forth disturbing outcries from farmers and farm organisations because this would mean this money would be taxed and no deductions could be put against the income. Essentially the money the minister was proclaiming available would simply circle into farmers hands and a portion of it would simple return to the government in taxation.

Perhaps the most distressing situation of all is the drastic reduction that is about to take place in the size of cattle herds as farmers have absolutely no alternative but to sell off their cows. The HayWest project was in fact really only a public relations project that did indeed draw needed attention to the plight but much less than two hundred box cars of hay are actually involved providing perhaps seventeen days feed to four hundred cattle farmers. The ugly part of this project was that the hay was donated and some of the transportation the Federal government contribution would not pay even one day of the subsidies that go to Bombardier.

Were this the first year of a drought it would be something that could be understood or endured but since the Diefenbaker years four decades ago the Canadian western agricultural economy has been abandoned completely by the nation and its national government as the only issue that has sustaining interest has been the separatist movement in Quebec.

However, this massive economic disaster for Western Canada will not spark further alienation as all have now conceded that with America's economy on the brink of collapse, we out West have little to be aliened about, as we do not have a National government to be upset with, as it is the government of Quebec and Ontario. All other territory claimed are merely colonial property to be ravaged to serve the interests of those who truly elect the government.

If you are surprised at this summation consider if you will a natural disaster of this consequence warranting the visit of the Ontario/Quebec minister of Agriculture of one hour in length in Saskatchewan and two hours in Alberta. No visit at all would have been much better than one so brief as to emphasis the minutiae importance it holds for the government centred in Ottawa.

Timothy W. Shire