FTLComm - Tisdale - August 4, 1999
By: Timothy W. Shire
On Monday, the end of a long weekend with vacationers rolling across the Saskatchewan prairies, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Saskatchewan farmers took their tractors, combines and grain trucks to the province's highways. In some areas traffic slowed to a walk and was backed up for miles. The farmers were trying to draw attention to their economic plight, while in the United States the Federal government is turning billions of dollars over to assist American Agriculture, Canadian politicians have taken the "let them freeze in the dark" position.

On Tuesday afternoon the CBC in its Saskatchewan phone in show, discussed the effectiveness of Monday's demonstrations and a university professor explained what he
saw as happening. The chilling reality of Canadian agricultural policy which is linked to the separatist threat from Quebec and the domination of Ontario over the entire country, was shocking. One farmer explained that the value of his production has fallen to one ten of what it was when he began his career as a farmer, while at the same time, production earnings of agricultural products in Ontario and Quebec have kept pace with the changes in the economy.

Another farmer angrily warned of the commericalisation of prairie agriculture and the prospect of the Canadian family owned farm disappearing as the multinational corporate companies begin to grab up land and assume the role of food producer. He was heralding the end of an era. As one listened to the discussion, it was pretty obvious that though the farmers and non-farmers alike were exceedingly aware of the economics of what was happening, they had not noticed what had already taken place.

The era of the family farm is already a historical event. Corporate farming has been around for a long time and its continuing development will only accelerate. Here in Tisdale the dehydration plants in the area are quite simply corporate farming, just as is the iron clad contracts that the grain companies and chemical companies use to control production and hedge their investments.

In Saskatchewan, we are seeing the conventional pig barns all close, as the massive corporate versions of these establishments come on line, largely supported with government money. The majority of these projects will fail and you will not be surprised to see more of your taxes going into propping up these uneconomic production facilities. Government money is pouring into meat packing plants like the one in Yorkton and of course, that is a so called "private" venture that you are financing to increase the
profits of a "private" venture

The era of the family farm is over, corporate farming is not only moving along nicely, but is receiving the support of you as the tax payer, who is paying for its development, while at the very same time the private entrepreneurial independent farmer is being eliminated. The current farm crisis, which is merely a continuation of other farm crisis in the past, will see about 20% of the farm ownership shift from the present farmers to banks, land holding companies and macro-farms. We are way behind in recognising what has already happened and the governments, both in Ottawa and in Regina, have been responsible for this elimination of private ownership, and you the voter, are ultimately responsible and the bad guy in this whole situation.

It may not seem nice to point out that you are responsible for having voted or failed to voice your opinion, so that pro-big business politicians, like the Saskatchewan Premier now and in the past, have carried out what they perceived as your will. Just as the federal government is doing what its supporters in Quebec and Ontario want, "look after us and only us."

One might suspect that you feel some guilt for this situation, but it is likely you do not, and the situation which has begun, will grimly grind its way to a conclusion, as you have essentially voted yourselves into corporate servitude.