Treated like dirt

Farmers can be excused if they were a touch bitter about the lot they have been handed by governments over the past few years. In spite of “some” financial help and in spite of “some” very good crops, the livestock industry is on its knees in Canada. Farmers aren’t usually upset with the things that come naturally such as hail or drought or flooding. They know the rules going into farming, those three things can’t be avoided, they just happen. If it were only for the natural stuff that happens, farmers would be in a much better frame of mind.
But there are three things that have happened that are not only beyond farmers control, they are man-made disasters that have befallen farming. Namely the BSE problem, the H1N1 flu being dubbed Swine Flu and on a closer to home basis, the overflow from Winnipeg sewers.
The Winnipeg Sun reported last Tuesday that the sewers of Winnipeg had overflowed into Lake Winnipeg no less that 18 times this summer. Of course, few are blaming the City of Winnipeg for polluting their darling lake, it’s the farmers who get the blame.
BSE has been in the news for about six years and the border closures that resulted from a very few cases of BSE has devastated the beef industry. The more recent misnamed Swine Flu has nearly destroyed the swine industry.
It’s tough to tell who has benefited from BSE and H1N1.
In some ways governments have benefited because by blowing up a small problem into what appears to be a huge problem, governments can masquerade as the saviour of the people. They can say how quickly they acted and how many deaths were prevented. In actual fact, it can’t be proven that any deaths can be directly traced to either the beef or swine industry, so it’s actually a flimsy case. That never has stopped governments from trying to make their point.
As for the government of Manitoba and the City of Winnipeg, they do have a real problem. A city sewer system that’s a 100 years old simply can’t meet today’s standards. When the sewage system for Winnipeg was designed, there were many homes that still had out door privies, outhouses. In fact in the 1960s, houses in Winnipeg’s suburban Fort Richmond still had outhouses. Outhouses didn’t send the sewage to the lake.
In addition, Winnipeg’s sewage systems was designed on 100 year old standards and for a population of 2-300,000 people, not 700,000.
Ironically, the CIty of Winnipeg might be able to capitalize on the problems of Lake Winnipeg. Rather than spending billions on an upgrade, they perhaps could harvest the algae that results from the nutrients in the lake and turn it into biofuel. It’s being done in other places and even if it needs subsidization to do so, it might be cheaper than re-jigging the whole sewage system. The Town of Killarney is desperately looking for a lake solution and their council is checking out algae harvest.
And it’s not as if there’s no information out there on algae and biofuel production. A Google search found 7,200,000 sites in .08 seconds on Tuesday morning so the information is out there if those in charge would take the time to look.
What does all this information mean. Is biofuel possible? Is BSE actually a threat to people? What’s the truth about H1N1?
Here’s the problem. Politicians, higher level bureaucrats and even media are lazy. They don’t think things out, they don’t do much research. They only want short snappy answers that don’t require any work. Plain and simple.
Compared to say traffic accidents, BSE is of negligible, if any, detriment to mankind.
H1N1 has little if anything to do with swine. It’s a flu bug that infects people, mostly those with a weakened immune system or who live in unsanitary conditions.
Farmers are easy to blame for “nutrients” in Lake Winnipeg because they are small enough in numbers that they count for nothing politically in the City of Winnipeg.
Given the informational environment that we live in and given the attitude of many politicians in urban areas it’s no wonder that a few years ago a frustrated farmer spewed out these words in utter frustration, “I hope food gets so scarce that you ba….ds starve in the streets.”
Our few remaining farmers could be excused for being frustrated.
They work with the soil but they shouldn’t be treated like dirt

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kwaddell@kenwaddell.ca This is a Sunrize Group internet solution (204)226-2247