Letters To The Editor – for Dec. 7, 2009

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WTO not the place to determine CWB fate

Prime Minister Harper’s Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz now claims he is standing up for the Canadian Wheat Board at World Trade Organization (WTO) talks. The way Harper and Ritz have tried to destroy the CWB in the past, I don’t believe it.

Basic democracy demands that the direction of the CWB should be determined by farmers alone, not WTO meetings by politicians. Politicians don’t understand how the CWB works. There are more marketing options within the CWB than for open market grains.

I think the Harper government would be only too happy to use the WTO as an excuse to destroy the CWB, even though Europe and the U.S. have never abided by WTO rules they find inconvenient.

If Harper and Ritz get their wish, grain marketing will be taken out of farmers’ hands and turned over to the grain companies as it was before we had a CWB.

If the Harper government wants to gain any respect, it should leave the CWB alone. Canadian farm policy has to be made in Canada by Canadian farmers.

George A. Calvin

New Norway

ABP active in speaking for industry

On behalf of Alberta Beef Producers (ABP), I wish to respond to the letter from Jim Muzychyn (ABP fails to develop new ideas (AF November 23). Mr. Muzychyn is most welcome, as are all cattle producers, to express his views on the effectiveness of ABP actions. We also welcome ideas from Mr. Muzychyn and other producers on how ABP can better represent cattle producers and make our industry stronger. However, there are a number of comments made by Mr. Muzychyn that warrant a response.

ABP does not apologize for our emphasis on foreign trade and expanding access to export markets. Canada is a trading nation and we export close to 40 per cent of the beef we produce here. If we stopped trading with countries such as the United States, as R-CALF and Mr. Muzychyn are suggesting, our industry would shrink dramatically.

While ABP supports age verification as a voluntary marketing tool, we have consistently opposed the use of regulations to make age verification mandatory. ABP and CCA have pressured the federal government to harmonize our SRM requirements with those of the U.S. and reduce the competitive disadvantage our industry faces as a result of these rules. In fact, ABP and CCA have led the push to reduce all of the regulatory costs and barriers that adversely affect the competitiveness of the Canadian cattle industry.

ABP is working to develop a refundable checkoff process that will be straightforward and efficient for producers requesting a refund while still fulfilling the responsibility we have been given by the majority of cattle producers to collect the checkoff and manage the funds wisely. The Marketing of Agricultural Products Act now provides for a refundable checkoff, not a voluntary checkoff. Mr. Muzychyn may rest assured, if he chooses to request a refund, he will receive it.

It is disappointing that Mr. Muzychyn does not feel ABP has done anything useful for cattle producers, but the ABP Annual Report, our Grass Routes newsletters, and our website contain detailed descriptions of the activities ABP has undertaken on behalf of Alberta cattle producers and the benefits that producers receive from this work. For those producers who recognize the value of having a strong and credible voice speaking for the industry, we will continue to represent their interests to the best of our ability.

Rick Burton

ABP chair Claresholm, Alberta

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