Farmers protest at NDP
nominating convention

FTLComm - Tisdale - Monday, June 12, 2006

If it were just a few years of bad weather, well perhaps that would be unfortunate but it is something that farmers know that they have to deal with but after decades of being on the short end of the economic system farmers almost everywhere on the planet are pretty well ticked off with the way things are going.

The cost of production increases often well above the rate of inflation while crop values are sometimes just plain hopeless.


Last week many of these same farmers met near Porcupine Plain to discuss what might be a positive way of getting movement on what seems like government indifference. With an NDP nominating convention in Tisdale this evening and the premier on hand this was an opportunity to make a point with the leader of the provincial government.

Ottawa has been indifferent to agriculture and agricultural policies since the 1960s when John Diefenbaker was prime minister, since then the who cares attitude has been solid.


Provincially, the rural farm vote has been going to the opposition as this constituency elected the absentee MLA Alan Kerpan and the government was elected by urban voters. In keeping with that the minister of agriculture for Saskatchewan simply doesn't have a clue and farmers resent that deeply.

The farmer on the right is a businessman with a huge investment. Most years he seeds close to 5,000 acres this year he got less than half that in the ground and the flooding has most likely destroyed more than half of that. His crop from last year is still pretty much in the bin but it was feed wheat and feed barley both returning just a bit less than they cost to grow. He has obligations, debts and with such a sizeable investment this 2006 crop year doesn't look good.


The farmer above is a college educated agricultural expert he and his brother got in almost two thirds of their crop this year but expect half of that to be already destroyed.

These two sensible and hard working businessmen have families and a community to support their whole lives are devoted to a profession, not some quaint hobby. Unlike the man in the video these fellows know what they are talking about


and they are spending every waking moment trying to figure out how to run their businesses the most efficient and profitable way they can.

Their plight is not just the accident of weather. For reasons that are quite beyond us they lost their railroad link and their elevators increasing their total input cost by about 25%. That was a political big business decision that affected them directly. They responded by investing and developing monster hog barn operations right near their two farms where they could market their production and not incur the heavy cost of long transportation costs by truck.

They are involved in developing a large feedlot corporation to use up the waste from yet un built ethanol plants. These guys are technical and financial farmers but the odds are against them and with some consideration by government in the form of policy and consideration for this primary industry their education, experience, wealth and determination is just not enough.

Though some farmers think along "tin cup" lines where hand outs from the public purse seem to be the solution. Indeed this is the approach that the United States has taken but the majority of modern farmers know that what is needed is awareness by government and public policy that will protect and insulate primary producers simply because without them the whole economy of the nation would be in trouble. Until that realisation takes place, there will have to be a lot more protests and our premier will have do more than talk sympathetically. By-the-way he is completely aware of the situation and considers his government a victim along with the farmers themselves, victims of Ottawa's indifference toward this part of the country.

But look at the farmer above, he is smiling as he contemplates what looks like a useless cause during the past twelve month period his land has been underway four times. Not because of bad weather, but because of governmental policy that has seen upstream water drainage systems improved so that water leaves higher land very fast whistles down the little river that runs through his property and over flows the dikes along the banks washing over his fields. The issue is one of attitude, government indifference and what appears to be a stacked deck.



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Editor : Timothy W. Shire
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