Santa, give our farmers some love

Some moisture, some better prices very welcome under the tree

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Dear Santa: Well, by now the kids have all had their say. It's time for us grown-ups to put in a request or two.

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Opinion

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 24/12/2011 (3998 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Dear Santa: Well, by now the kids have all had their say. It’s time for us grown-ups to put in a request or two.

I almost hate to say it, after the floods we had last spring, but we could really use a little moisture in the form of white stuff. Sure, the mild weather makes for great driving conditions as people head out on the rural highways, but those fields were mighty dry going into the fall and now they’re looking pretty bare.

You may not realize it, but some of those fields are already sown to next year’s crop of winter wheat. These plants germinate in the fall and go dormant for winter. But those root crowns need an insulating snow cover to survive the bitter weather.

If the thermometer plummets in January, as it is prone to do, thousands of acres of winter wheat will have a pretty tough time making it through. That would be another disaster for farmers, many of whom were unable to seed last spring due to excess moisture.

Oh, and by the way, farmers really don’t appreciate it when people drive their snowmobiles and ATVs across these seeded fields. The tracks expose the roots and kill the plants. Just something to keep in mind when you’re looking for a place to land.

That said, Santa, there are a lot of rural folks who were pushed out of their homes during last spring’s flooding who haven’t been able to return. The damage goes far beyond their property losses, which are substantial. There are livelihoods at stake here, not to mention the prospect of life beside the lake relegated to fond memories.

I’m sure many of these flood victims would appreciate some rubber boots. But make sure they’re the steel-toed variety, so they can give the powers in charge of their compensation packages a little nudge of encouragement now and then.

All things considered, it turned out pretty good for crops outside the flood zones in the province. It’s too bad prices have lost their lustre. Have you ever thought about giving farmers good prices and a good crop at the same time, Santa? Oh well, they probably wouldn’t sell anyway. They’d hold on, waiting for prices to go even higher.

Livestock producers are starting to see some profitable times ahead. It has been a long time coming, especially for the hog producers.

As you pack up that sleigh of yours tonight, Santa, you might want to throw in a few extra packages of peace and goodwill to distribute out here on the Prairies.

I hate to tell tales, but the debate that’s been waging out here lately over the fate of the Canadian Wheat Board gives new definition to the term smokin’ hot. There have even been a couple of suspicious fires destroying the property of high-profile CWB supporters out in Saskatchewan.

Mighty neighbourly. Some people seem to think that when you’re fighting for a cause, anything goes.

This issue has had more lives than a cat. Every time you think it’s all over, a new twist emerges to get people all hot and bothered again. The breakdown of civility has torn the farming community to pieces.

While it’s important for people to stand up for what they believe in, we’re all tired of this unpleasantness. Whatever happened to the days when people could disagree without making it personal?

The prevailing attitude among farmers far removed from the front lines — no matter on which side of the issue they sit — is the government is going to get its way anyway. So let’s move on.

But that creates another pressing problem, Santa. Farmers out here are going to need someone else to listen to their complaints when things inevitably go awry with grain marketing. Before, people could always blame the wheat board, whether or not it was at the root of the problem.

Heck, it would even hold meetings across the Prairies every year so people could vent. And every once in awhile it would take offending parties to task on their behalf.

That’s not likely to happen with the grain companies and railways running the show. Maybe every farmer should get one of those bobble-headed dolls made to look like Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz in their stockings. That way, they can vent as often as they like and he’ll nod as though he’s listening.

Just one more thing before you take off, Santa. It sure would be nice to have some average weather. You know the kind: not too hot, not too cold, not to wet and not too dry. It would be a nice change.

That’s the farmers’ wish list for this year. Happy trails.

Laura Rance is editor of the Manitoba Co-operator. She can be reached at 792-4382 or by email: laura@fbcpublishing.com

Laura Rance

Laura Rance
Columnist

Laura Rance is editorial director at Farm Business Communications.

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