Clearing up the alphabet-soup problemIn the August/September 2002 edition of Better Farming, the article entitled "A resounding no to corn countervail" by Don Stoneman contained some misinformation by way of an acronym. In the identification and explanation of Ontario Agri-Food Technologies, the letters used in brackets read OAFE. In fact, OAFE is Ontario Agri-Food Education Inc. We feel it is important to draw this to your attention because the gentleman quoted extensively in this article is Don McCabe, speaking on behalf of Ontario Corn Producers Association's research and technology committee and market development committee. While Don McCabe of OCPA represents one of 12 grower associations on the OAFT consortium, the same Don McCabe is the current chair of the board of directors of OAFE. This makes the acronym mistake an understandable one. OAFE is prepared to wish OAFT well in its ventures. However, OAFE does not "distribute a glossy brochure touting Port Colborne's advantages . . ." Thank you for allowing us to clear up this "alphabet soup" problem. We, at OAFE, appreciate Don McCabe, OCPA, OAFT and Better Farming magazine.
Executive Director (Interim),
Ontario Agri-Food Education Inc.,
Not just the farmers who are to blameI feel Better Farming's October article, "Nearly half of Ontario's sewage treatment plants still fail to meet environmental commitments," should be printed not just in the farming area but in the city papers as well. We are farmers and we know that it is not just the farmers who are polluting our lakes and streams. But try and tell the urban people this! I feel everyone should be informed of what is going on and the next time the city people complain about our lakes being closed for swimming, it might help them to understand that it can't all be blamed on the farmers.
Huge improvement needed in sewage handlingThanks for all your articles on the environment in the October issue of Better Farming. A huge improvement is needed in the handling of all sewage. There is a regular letter writer in the local newspaper who has stated that farmers should treat their manure the way that municipalities do. I would like to send him your article.
KUHN mixer depicted unavailable in North AmericaWe, at KUHN North America, were very surprised by your article in the November 2002 issue of Better Farming on "EuroTier Innovations." This article causes prejudice to us due to the fact that you published without authorization a converted Canadian price for a machine available for the European market at this time.
As a matter of fact, the Kuhn mixer shown in your article is currently not available in North America. This Euromix I series 70 is a smaller, lighter-duty machine compared to the 60 series model currently available and sold in North America. Please see the following web pages for the differences between the 60 and 70 series.
Essential facts about the Wetland Drain Restoration ProjectI am writing to outline essential facts overlooked in your recent coverage of the Wetland Drain Restoration Project.
In four of the last five years, Southern Ontario landscapes experienced severe dry conditions, which impacted agricultural business. The Wetland Drain Restoration Project was developed to remedy some of these impacts.
The project restores wetlands that are intercepted by municipal drains by altering drains to include water-control structures. Therefore areas which like to be wet can hold water longer. Wetlands are restored and associated wetland functions -- groundwater recharge, improved water quality and the maintenance of baseflows -- are regained. The project also benefits fish and wildlife habitat.
The project is initiated through an engineer's report under the Drainage Act. Drainage outlets are maintained through the authority given to the county via their Drainage Superintendents. In this fashion, water levels may easily be manipulated in response to the needs of landowners. Therefore, the project supports agricultural business objectives without impacting arable lands.
Project partners include landowners, Norfolk County, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Long Point Region Conservation Authority, Norfolk Land Stewardship Council, Ducks Unlimited, Wetland Habitat Fund, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Ontario Ministry of Environment and Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food.
The Wetland Drain Restoration Project is gaining momentum and will expand throughout Ontario to benefit farmers and communities.
Wetland Drain Project Coordinator
Apprenticeship program provides career opportunitiesThank you for your November article: "Apprenticeship for Ontario Dairy Workers," on the dairy herdsperson apprenticeship program. As noted in the article, the apprenticeship program provides participants with the opportunity to gain certification of their skills while maintaining employment. Students completing the dairy apprentice program are finding numerous career opportunities, as the demand for skilled farm employees is very strong.
I will continue to provide you with updates on the program as well as information on the April 2003 dairy apprentice graduates.
Many organizations help build leadershipI want to congratulate you on your November cover story on "Farm Leaders" by Susan Mann. Leaders, both those with and without titles, are a vital resource in the agriculture industry. We appreciate the contribution that the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and other commodity organizations make to this resource, both internally and through sponsorship of the Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program (AALP).
I also wanted to clarify some information that could be misinterpreted in the segment on "Sharpening those vital leadership skills," which profiled the AALP. Your readers should know that many organizations, corporations and individuals in the agri-food industry support the program. These include: the Foundation for Rural Living, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, the University of Guelph, as well as our lead sponsors: AGRICORP, BASF, Chicken Farmers of Ontario, Monsanto Canada Inc., Ontario Egg Producers, Pioneer Hi-Bred Ltd., RBC Royal Bank, Syngenta Crop Protection Canada Inc., Syngenta Seeds Canada Ltd.
Others are too numerous to name here, but share a commitment to developing leadership across the industry.
Thanks again for the article and the profile. AALP is recruiting for the next class of participants -- Class 10 (2003 to 2005). Applications are available now and the deadline is Mar. 7, 2003.
Ann L. Gordon
The ethics of development aidI spent the morning of Nov. 29 in Ottawa at a Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) Roundtable, representing the Ontario Federation of Agriculture. The topic was "The Role of Canadian Agriculture in Canada's International Assistance Program" and Susan Whelan, MP and Minister for International Co-operation was in the chair. Upon arrival back at the farm, I found the December issue of Better Farming with a cover story on Canada's role in food and development aid.
The Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB) is the model for rural Canada. CFGB was born only 20 years ago out of the famine in the Horn of Africa (Ethiopia). The Mennonite Central Committee probably deserves credit for the CFGB concept but, regardless of origin, the CFGB now includes 13 Canadian church denominations in a food and development aid program that is flexible and based on teamwork at many levels (CIDA included).
Based on the discussion paper released by CIDA in October and the level of commitment portrayed by Minister Whelan at the Roundtable. I am hopeful that Canada's slide in aid will turn upward. At the same time, one must recognize that lobby groups with a "righteous right"' inclination are telling governments to let the poor of the world pave their own path to poverty and use our resources for higher prosperity levels for Canadians. Yet there is no doubt in my mind about the ethics of development aid. Canadians are very blessed and owe the poorest of our poor neighbours a small piece of our prosperity.
Back in the early 1990s, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture and the Agricultural Institute of Canada teamed up on a mentor program to help the former Soviet Union develop market-centred agriculture out of the old state commune system. Volunteers were recruited from all levels of the Canadian agricultural community. CIDA and Minister Whelan would certainly do well to consider that model as a possible part of Canada's new version of Canada's development aid policy.
Our government should continue to encourage the growth of agencies like the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.
Gordon Garlough Williamsburg
Many involved in developing farm leadershipI congratulate you on your November cover story on "Farm Leaders" by Susan Mann.
Leaders, both with and without titles, are a vital resource in agriculture. We appreciate the investment that the OFA and other commodity organizations contribute to this resource, both internally and through sponsorship of the Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program (AALP).
I also wanted to clarify some information that could be misinterpreted in the segment on "Sharpening those vital leadership skills," which profiled the AALP. Many organizations, corporations and individuals in the agri-food industry support the program. These include the Foundation for Rural Living, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food and the University of Guelph, as well as our lead sponsors: AGRICORP, BASF, Chicken Farmers of Ontario, Monsanto Canada Inc., Ontario Egg Producers, Pioneer Hi-Bred Ltd., RBC Royal Bank, Syngenta Crop Protection Canada Inc., Syngenta Seeds Canada Ltd. Others, too numerous to name here, share a commitment to developing leadership across the industry.
Thanks again for the article and the profile. AALP is recruiting for the next class of participants -- Class 10 (2003 to 2005). Applications are available now and the deadline is Mar. 7, 2003.
Ann L. Gordon
Let's hear the other side of the Kyoto debateRegarding Henry Hengeveld's weather column on the Kyoto Accord (Better Farming, December 2002), in the interests of fairness, you should print an article giving the other side of the picture. There are many thousands of scientists who do not agree with the statements put forward by the supporters of the Kyoto Accord.
Many, including myself, believe, that the so-called increase in the temperature of the earth is more likely to be due to a natural change in world temperature and has nothing to do with human activities.
I also note that in the last 100 years the temperature has risen by six tenths of one degree and could rise as much as half of one degree in the next 50 years. I believe there are many people in Canada and others who live at this latitude who would only be only too pleased to see the temperature go up somewhat.
You will observe that, as people learn more about the cost of the Kyoto Accord to Canada, they are turning against it. Our government has failed miserably in explaining the effects and the costs of the programs and I have written to the Prime Minister telling him that in a democratic society a matter of such importance (if that is what they consider it) should be discussed with a full debate in the House of Commons.
Rich countries drain away capital from the Third WorldRe: "Rectifying the scandal of Canada's diminishing foreign aid" (Better Farming, December 2002). On September 11, 2001, 2,900 people were assassinated when the World Trade Center collapsed, a tragedy to be sure. Compare that to the 25,000 children who die every day around the world from hunger.
U.S. Senator Charles Mathias Jr. recognized in the 1960s that the capital flow from the United States to Latin America totaled $3.8 billion while the flow from Latin America to the United States was $11.3 billion, resulting in a net of $7.5 billion from the poor to the rich. This is aid in reverse and points to the true cause of global poverty.
We have had 30 years to address that situation, Let's look at what we have done.
Developing countries still pay out more money than they take in, to the tune of about $270 billion US a year. Cameron Smith says in The Toronto Star that the United States gets the bulk of the net outflows from other countries and that the number of people living in extreme poverty could be halved if nations contributed another $32 billion a year to the task. More than $1.6 trillion a year is spent on military weapons.
What are the wealthiest countries contributing in foreign aid? Aid ranges from a high of 1.06 per cent of GNP for Denmark to a low of 0.1 per cent for the United States of America. Canada spends 0.25 per cent or about $2.7 billion, half its historical high during the '70s.
We not only take food away from Third World countries, we destroy our own agricultural base, in particular the family farm. Rich countries compel poor countries to grow cash crops for export to the West when they would be better off using their land base to grow food for local consumption.
When we talk about aid, we really should be discussing reparation.
Farmers disadvantaged by Niagara authoritiesThe Regional Municipality of Niagara and the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority are working together on a Water Quality Protection Strategy. It is my understanding that the resulting policies and regulations will be added to those of the Nutrient Management Act.
Public participants at the stakeholder meeting may attend only one of the various sessions, as they are held simultaneously. I attended the first meeting on Agriculture in November and the Natural Environment one in January. The agenda at these meetings is structured and fast-paced. There was insufficient time to challenge or fully discuss statements being made, let alone bring up new concerns.
As most of the groups' mandates can have an impact on agriculture, farmers are being disadvantaged by this process. The three-quarter inch thick report, which was discussed at the January meeting, was only delivered to me the day before the meeting. This is the third time the Region has approached this topic. If it was truly concerned about water quality, they have had enough time to bring their own house in order first -- for example, in regard to sewer by-passes/spills, excessive road salt -- and to show leadership before perusing further regulations for others.
My feeling is that they will use only those committee comments which will justify the decision that they have already made. I hope I am wrong.
Misrepresentation of Alliance policy on supply managementIn your January 2003 edition, Barry Wilson's article, "The Canadian Alliance Reverts to Form on Supply Management" is an attempt to misinform farmers concerning Canadian Alliance agriculture policy.
Mr. Wilson has a written copy of the Canadian Alliance agriculture policy; there is no excuse for him not to be accurate. Prior to the 2000 election, I attended an Ontario Federation of Agriculture meeting and handed out a written copy of our agriculture policy, which included our policy on supply management, as well as verbally explaining it. This is the same policy that is in place now!
Our policy clearly states that Canadian protective tariffs and domestic support will not be lowered, except in conjunction with equivalent reductions in other WTO member countries. The same applies to fairness and equality in market access. The Liberal track record after they signed the 1995 World Trade Agreement on Agriculture shows they sold out both supply management farmers and those that produce other commodities, through unilateral Canadian reductions.
In fairness to the Liberals, it was the federal Progressive Conservatives that negotiated the end to Article 11 that protected supply management before they lost the 1993 election. Once the Liberals took power, they finished negotiating and then signed the agreement, verifying the loss of protection. Supply management farmers who want to be mad at federal politicians at election time should set their sights on the federal Progressive Conservatives and the Liberals, not the Canadian Alliance.
Canadian Alliance agriculture policy ensures that farmers producing supply-managed and other commodities will remain viable. This will hold true no matter what the Liberals negotiate in the current round of WTO talks. Mr. Wilson can "spin doctor" our policy for his own purposes but he cannot change the facts.
Howard Hilstrom, MP
The "right" viewpoint on foreign aidI can't let Gordon Garlough's comments about the "righteous right" and foreign aid go unchallenged (Letters, January 2003).
The "right" viewpoint is that people ought to help people. We applaud actions like those of the Mennonite Central Committee and even support the notion of CIDA matching private aid where the private organization will see that the money goes where it is needed. Canadians are indeed more prosperous than many others, and it is simple human compassion to share our wealth.
However, the government has no money; our national debt is so high the government is bankrupt by business standards. What we object to is our government giving money borrowed from our grandchildren to other governments to squander as they will.
Example: the last time I checked, we give a major part of our aid to India, an economy much larger and less debt-ridden than ours, where they spend more on their program to develop a nuclear bomb than we give them. So money borrowed from our children is going to nuclear bomb research. There is more money flowing out of Africa into Swiss bank accounts than there is foreign aid flowing into Africa, so money borrowed from our grandchildren lines the pockets of corrupt bureaucrats.
The vast majority of poor people are small farmers displaced off the land by economic conditions. We have to be careful that our food aid does not result in depressing prices in the recipient country, thereby bankrupting more farmers. That is where private organizations in the recipient country come in -- by ensuring the food goes directly to the hungry children, and not the local marketplace, in a way that governments cannot.
Setting the record straightIn the April issue of Better Farming magazine, an article entitled Developer finds common ground with farmers contains inaccuracies, and we would like to take the opportunity to set the record straight.
First, the article refers to the expropriation of farmland without compensation . The property referred to was not farmland, but an environmentally significant area - namely, a Provincially Significant Wetland. Moreover, it was not expropriated, but the OMB recommended designation as a wetland in accordance with provincial policy statement in the Planning Act.
Additionally, Mr. Hearn s representatives were advised prior to purchase that this property was an environmentally significant area, and as such, extensive environmental impact studies would have to be completed prior to any development being permitted within the woodlot. All of us - whether we are agricultural landowners, urban home builders, or subdivision developers, are subject to the same set of rules - those set out in the Planning Act and related policies and guidelines.
With respect to Mr. Chittle s property, the article states that he was refused permission to build a home. This is factually incorrect. It was always acknowledged that this was his right. The issue at hand was the location of additional proposed severances. Furthermore, Mr. Chittle did not cut down the woodlot , he removed some trees in the woodlot in order to build his home.
The reference to a plan by the ERCA to place a levy on agricultural land in order to raise money to buy farmland and put it into trees... is grossly mis-representative. The Clean Water ~ Green Spaces initiative has been introduced in an effort to improve surface water quality to meet minimum provincial standards and improve the environmental and human health of this region. It does not place a levy on agricultural land alone, but proposes a tax payment for all taxable properties, the majority of which do not come from farmers or agricultural land. This small contribution, along with grants from the federal and provincial governments and other organizations, will be used to implement a framework whereby environmental responsibility is shared amongst all residents of the region and beyond. It does not solely rest with the agricultural community, who have traditionally borne a significant onus of protecting our natural environment simply because they have most of the land available to do so.
Finally, the article suggests that in order to achieve Clean Water ~ Green Spaces, 19,000 acres of farmland would be taken out of production. Again, this is simply not the case. First, ERCA does not propose to take anything.
Reforestation and restoration would also be conducted on publicly owned lands and rural non-farm properties. Any private landowner participation in reforestation or restoration is entirely voluntary. Currently, rural landowners in this region purchase in the order of 150,000 trees each year to enhance their properties - either by reforesting marginal farmland, to protect their soil from eroding by planting buffers, enhancing an existing woodlot or by implementing other best management practices. Imagine how much more attractive this option would be to landowners who wish to undertake environmental improvements if incentive grants were available to assist these excellent stewards of our natural environment.
We would hope that your readers would remember that there are at least two sides to every story. We would encourage your readers to contact ERCA directly if they have concerns, questions or comments. Clean Water ~ Green Spaces is intended to be a living plan, changing and evolving with the needs of this community.
Applause for Johns is prematureLet us suppose that I had just returned from a three-month absence and saw the headline: "Helen Johns wins rave reviews from Ontario farmers," (Better Farming, April 2003). I notice that only two were mentioned by name. Minutes later, I pick up a copy of our local newspaper where I read, "No pat on back for Helen Johns."
The article goes on to say: "Grey County council members turned down a proposed resolution thanking Ontario Minister of Agriculture Helen Johns for responding to widespread farmers' concerns over new farm environmental regulations.... One farm councillor described the motion as premature."
I will focus briefly on only two issues:
Whether or not the provincial advisory committee announced on March 21, 2003, can put in place some workable, enforceable and affordable regulations remains to be seen. In the meantime, please hold your applause.