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A little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing

It’s June, I know, and I really should be talking about how this is a “new” issue (it’s a month early) or that we have new disease and pest scouting tables. But a number of other things have caught my attention in recent weeks.


It’s June, I know, and I really should be talking about how this is a “new” issue (it’s a month early) or that we have new disease and pest scouting tables. But a number of other things have caught my attention in recent weeks.

I’ve borrowed the words of Thomas Jefferson for my title and they can be taken one of two ways: either as a hollow threat or as gentle, but firm, reminder of the “power of the people.” After all, it worked against imperial rule in 1776 and 1917.

But Canadian farmers are not waging a rebellion against “taxation without representation.”

Wait a minute. The government’s ignoring sound science and banning commercial pesticides, demanding safe, abundant food with any costs for accountability to be borne by the producer, and now, we see increased pillaging of prime agricultural land, both in the US and in Canada.

Hmm, minimization of a segment of society, imposing ridiculous conditions on their business practices and a virtual appropriation of land (however legal it may be, the land is disappearing or being devalued).

Yup, they sound like all the ingredients for a war.

And now, a politician from Ontario is raising the alarm: there are fewer farmers today than there were 15 years ago, with fewer young people taking over the farm.

Really?

I can’t imagine why 20-something farmers are avoiding the industry. Who wouldn’t want a job that typically requires more than 50 hours a week, pays slightly more than minimum wage in net farm income, all while requiring certification and more brains than an average education bureaucrat, and earning the lasting ingratitude and apathy of the general public?

Go figure!

Granted, Western Canada may not be seeing the loss of prime farm land to the same extent as Ontario, but I think all of the other conditions I have mentioned still apply west of Kenora.

Derision, domination, invasion, appropriation: it’s worked for other dictators, why not an entire society?

A fair fight?

Maybe the time is now for Canadian agriculture to really join the battle, provide some resistance and a counteroffensive. We really need to pay closer attention to things like Bill C-474, to speak out against development in urban centres like Saskatoon or London, and start demanding better representation, not just from government, but from consumers who rely on and benefit from the products grown and produced on our farms.

Ten years ago, Dr. Tim Ball, who some consider to be a bit of a “manure agitator” (you know what I mean) suggested that I use my less-than-regular column in a London daily newspaper to “shake things up.” He urged me to tell readers that farmers are banding together to cut production by a third or half, in order to raise farmgate prices. He noted it would spark some lively responses among non-farmers, most of them only fearing the impact on their respective grocery bills, instead of an overall depression of quality, safety and agri-food trade.

It is so tempting to use some social media platform to do just that; spread a little fertilizer on an unsuspecting – and unknowledgeable – consuming public, then watch the resulting parade of anxiety directed at provincial legislatures and Parliament Hill.

I wouldn’t stoop so low as to do that.

Then again, “All’s fair in love and war.”

I hope your seeding season went well!