By Toban Dyck - Monday, January 28, 2013 - 0 Comments
Bales of hay are the prime goods in a U.S. crime spree
It’s hard to imagine hay bales being the focus of a crime spree. They are, after all, just piles of old grass. But in some parts of the United States, hay theft is emerging as a big problem. Long periods of severe drought and grass fires across much of the western U.S. have forced the price of hay and other livestock feeds to record highs. Some U.S. auctions reported 800-lb. hay bales, enough to feed the average cow for about 20 days, fetching close to $350 each.
“Oklahoma is screaming for hay,” Dale Leslein, manager of a hay auction in Iowa, told Farm Progress America. “Missouri is running short; Nebraska is very tight, as are Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee and Kentucky. They’re all running out of hay.” Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, January 25, 2013 at 1:03 PM - 0 Comments
Last Wednesday, Native Protestors blocked the QE II near Gateway Boulevard fully and then partially for a little less than 2 hours. Then during the afternoon commute, the same protestors set up a blockade on St. Albert Trail at Sturgeon Road. As St. Albert is a bedroom community of Edmonton, I represent many commuters. My office has been inundated with e-mails and phone calls asking why the RCMP allowed this admittedly peaceful protest to proceed. According to the St. Albert “Gazette”, the demonstration happened with the cooperation of the RCMP, who had met in advance with the protestors and were on scene to manage traffic. Apparently, the RCMP share Edmonton Police Service’s theory that managing a protest is a better tactic than stopping it.
I am not so sure. In the first place, acquiescing to an illegal activity does nothing to prevent further illegal activities. And make no mistake; the police were enabling an illegal activity. Section 430 of the Criminal Code clearly defines the offence of “Mischief” when one willfully “obstructs, interrupts or interferes with the lawful use, enjoyment or operation of property”. Moreover, you can be charged with “Intimidation” when you compel “another person to abstain from doing anything that he or she has a lawful right to do” including one who “blocks or obstructs a highway”, which is “a road to which the public has the right of access” (Section 2).
A hallmark of a free society is our Charter protected rights of expression and assembly. Accordingly, I defend the rights of peaceful assembly without equivocation. However, one’s freedom to demonstrate cannot break the criminal law; one’s freedom to protest cannot trump another’s right to the lawful use of public property to get home after work. As enlightenment philosopher John Locke so famously declared: “my liberty to swing my fist is limited by the proximity of your chin.”
Blake Richards is similarly concerned.
That being said, some of the militant activists hiding behind the Idle No More banner are doing all they can to threaten the progress being made between our government and First Nations leaders. Canadians are growing increasingly frustrated and disappointed with the actions of those who blockade highways and railways. The blockades must stop. They are counterproductive, and an impediment to progress.
From a philosophical standpoint, violating the law is fairly central to the idea of civil disobedience.
Such protests are, of course, not unique to aboriginal causes. Farmers in British Columbia conducted a blockade of a private property on an entirely unrelated matter this month (the blockade ended Thursday at the RCMP’s behest). Farmers have used convoys in the past that have tied up or otherwise impeded traffic in the process of protesting government policy. (Farmers also protested the coalition in 2008.) And at least one such protest has occurred with support from some of Mr. Richards and Mr. Rathgeber’s colleagues (see story below).
Ultimately, we’re talking about tolerance: what should a democratic society be willing to tolerate and what should law enforcement be willing to tolerate before intervening? (From a policing standpoint, for the sake of maintaining peace and order, where is the line between letting a protest run its course and needing to enforce the law? At what point is it more troublesome to intervene than it would be to work around the situation?) Protesters who break the law probably have to accept the possibility of being arrested, charged or fined—though, with something like a highway blockade, working with law enforcement in advance might allow for reasonable compromises to be found. But protesters also have to keep in mind how the general public will view their actions: a protest might be meant to raise awareness, but it might hurt the larger cause if the action greatly angers and frustrates those directly impacted and is viewed unfavourable by the majority of those who read and hear the news. In that regard, Idle No More protesters might be smart to consider the complaints of Mr. Rathgeber and Mr. Richards, even if they disagree with their conclusions. Continue…
By macleans.ca - Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 6:20 AM - 0 Comments
Hunters want to import hundreds of wild turkeys to shoot. Farmers aren’t nearly as keen.
With extraordinary eyesight, strength beyond their size and uncanny survival skills, wild turkeys are a favourite target for sportsmen. In New Brunswick, where the birds are increasingly showing up in fields and at backyard bird feeders, hunters have been lobbying the provincial government for decades to institute a legal wild-turkey hunt, and allow more birds to be brought in to boost the population. Now, despite trepidation from some farmers and naturalists who fear what could happen if the birds’ numbers explode, it appears the government is ready to act.
Rob Wilson, president of the local chapter of the Canadian Wild Turkey Federation, says his group hopes for an announcement within weeks. As a hunter who usually heads to the U.S. to bag his yearly bird, he’s excited at the prospect of finally being able to hunt at home. “They’re very challenging: not as easy as a white-tailed deer or moose,” says Wilson, who helped lead a volunteer-funded environmental assessment that was delivered to the government earlier this year.
Hunting the bird is currently legal in six provinces and 49 states. Bruce Northrup, New Brunswick’s natural resources minister, tagged along on a spring hunt in Maine to see what it entailed. “I’m not a hunter,” he says, describing a chilly morning wake-up for a dawn hunt. “We’re really trying to do our homework on this.”
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 11:17 AM - 3 Comments
The government was fairly adamant yesterday that it would defend supply management. Steven Chase imagines how they might reduce tariffs without abandoning the system entirely. Stephen Gordon considers how difficult it would be to scrap it.
The ideal solution to the problem would be to invent a time machine, go back to the 1970s, and tell policy makers what a terrible mistake they were about to make. Sadly, this is not possible. So how can we reduce dairy prices without ruining present-day dairy farmers who bought their quotas in good faith? One option — as described in this CD Howe proposal – would be to slowly increase the number of quotas over a long period of time, so that they gradually lose their value. When they are essentially worthless, there would be little loss in abolishing them.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, November 14, 2011 at 10:31 AM - 30 Comments
The Prime Minister said Canada can “easily meet” the broad strokes of the agreement unveiled Saturday by Mr. Obama, even if it means throwing into the mix a supply management system that forces Canadians to pay higher prices for products like milk, cheese, chicken and eggs…
“We will make an application and I am optimistic we will participate in the future,” he added. “Whenever we enter negotiations, as we’ve done in the past with other countries, as we’re doing right now with Europe, we always say that all matters are on the table. But of course Canada will seek to defend and promote our specific interests in every single sector of the economy.”
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, October 24, 2011 at 1:04 PM - 18 Comments
Barrie McKenna explores the government’s attempt to support both the free market (when it comes to the Canadian Wheat Board) and supply management (when it comes to dairy farmers).
If open markets are so clearly in the best interests of grain farmers in Western Canada, why aren’t they also good for the dairy farmers of Quebec and Ontario? The answer, of course, is politics in a country where rural areas are still overly represented in the House of Commons. Supply management has become a proxy for rural entitlement and protection of family farms – a message that helped the Conservatives to a sweep outside the major cities in Southern Ontario in the May election. And by retaining the regime, Mr. Harper presumably calculates he will keep those seats four years from now.
There is no sound economic or policy rationale for keeping supply management. The government is sacrificing the interests of 34 million Canadians for the sake of fewer than 15,000 dairy and poultry farmers … Every year the distortions caused by the system grow larger. Canadians may not realize it when they go to the grocery store, but they’re paying twice the world average for dairy products – and up to three times what Americans pay. That’s a hidden $3-billion a year tax on all of us.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 at 10:00 AM - 67 Comments
A majority of voters in a plebiscite have voted to maintain the Canadian Wheat Board’s monopsony.
A total of 62 per cent of prairie wheat growers – 22,764 farmers – voted to keep the monopoly versus 38 per cent – 14,059 farmers – who voted to eliminate the monopoly and be able to sell their wheat on the open market.
Just over half of barley growers – 51 per cent – voted to maintain the monopoly compared to 49 per cent who voted to eliminate it. The vote was held by mail-in ballot of farmers in the CWB area including Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Turnout in the referendum was 56 per cent for wheat growers, 47 per cent for barley growers and 60 per cent for farmers who grew both.
The government responded last night with a note entitled “Statement from Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz on the Result of the Expensive Survey.” Continue…
By Jessica Allen - Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 9:45 AM - 0 Comments
Fast food restaurants are getting the farmers that grow their food to sell it too
Using the qualifier “natural” to sell food to a hungry public is nothing new. But mass-market food advertisers have recently taken the strategy to new heights by getting the people that actually grow the food to sell it, too. A new McDonald’s television ad, which opens with a farmer carrying a bushel of potatoes, drives home the idea that their fries are made with the same potatoes you mash at home. Wendy’s new TV ads show farmer Jim Carter eating the strawberries he grows that end up in the fast-food chain’s new salad. And the latest Lay’s ad campaign features the potato farmers who provide the produce for the company’s chips. (They also include a “chip tracker” on their website, where customers can enter a product code found on bags in order to find out exactly where the potatoes inside were harvested.) The underlying message seems to be, “Our food is made with food. And it’s grown by real farmers.” Continue…
By Chris Sorensen - Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 9:40 AM - 1 Comment
Eight day freeze wiped out two-thirds of the winter tomato crop
An eight-day deep freeze that hit Florida in January wiped out more than two-thirds of the winter tomato crop, causing prices to spike across the continent and some U.S. fast-food chains to eliminate or ration the juicy red vegetable (technically a fruit, according to botanists). In response, farmers rushed to fill the void and now, several months later, we’re in the midst of a massive tomato glut.
By Nicholas Köhler - Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 8:20 AM - 10 Comments
Personality conflicts at farmers’ markets aren’t that unusual, says one expert, but even he admits Calgary’s are ‘on a different scale’
In late July 2008, Antonio Souto, a B.C. fresh produce broker, drove out to Charnapal “Paul” Sandhu’s orchard in Osoyoos, B.C., just north of the U.S. border, “with a view,” as he puts it in an affidavit filed at the Court of Queen’s Bench in Calgary, “to purchasing an order of nectarines.” In terms that can sound almost Biblical, Souto continues: “I saw that the nectarines on the trees at Mr. Sandhu’s orchard were ripe and so purchased from Mr. Sandhu 119 18-lb. cases.” Affirms Sandhu in his own affidavit: “I did personally pick, sort, and pack these nectarines.” Upon buying the fruit, Souto goes on, “I went directly to Calgary. I then sold a number of these subject nectarines to Ms. Sharla Dube.”
Nectarines, a species of fuzzless peach, aren’t the standard stuff of litigation. But such were the tensions at the Calgary Farmers’ Market last fall that Dube, owner of the Cherry Pit fruit stand, filed suit against Calgary Farmers’ Market NGC Inc., the market’s general manager, the six members of the market’s board of directors, and two of her competitors (fruit and veg stalls owned by two of those very directors). Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, April 14, 2009 at 12:30 AM - 13 Comments
A bit of video from Michael Ignatieff’s stop today in Kent Bridge, Ontario has been posted to YouTube. The pitch was not unlike one written about here previously. The last 30 seconds or so of this clip might be the most interesting. Is that refreshing candour or dangerous candour? If the latter, why? Because there’s something inherently wrong with what he said or because you’re just not supposed to say that?
Ignatieff breaks the fourth wall, so to speak, every so often—the best bits of his Iraq reassessment did so. My first reaction is almost always something close to the sort of startled confusion that would normally result from hearing a public figure utter a racial epithet in public. But maybe that’s just because I’ve so rarely heard a politician admit that he’s a politician.
Full clip after the jump. Continue…
By Andrew Potter - Tuesday, May 27, 2008 at 11:54 PM - 0 Comments
What is it about farming that makes otherwise rational people lose their frigging minds?…
What is it about farming that makes otherwise rational people lose their frigging minds? In the latest news out of the land that reason forgot (and published in the WSJ today) fertilizer prices are going through the roof, up 65% from a year earlier. This is supposedly exacerbating the food crisis, because farmers can’t afford to expand their production.
According to Robert Carlson, president of the North Dakota Farmers Union, the price of fertilizer “defies rational explanation.” And by “rational explanation”, he means something like, “what fertilizer would cost if the price weren’t kept artificially high by potash and phosphate cartels.”
Let’s pause for a moment to sup on the rich irony of a farmer complaining about price fixing.
Turns out he has a point, since there are cartels, including our own Canpotex, which are shielded from anti-trust laws by legislative exemptions in Canada and the US.
Which brings us to one Bill Doyle, chief exec of Potash corp: “In an interview Monday, Mr. Doyle called recent complaints about prices an emotional reaction. Fertilizer prices began rising in earnest about a year ago after a nearly decade long period of stability. ‘People don’t like higher prices,’ Mr. Doyle said. But ‘you never hear from anyone complaining when prices are low’.”
Actually, yes you do. YOU HEAR IT FROM FARMERS. Farmers complain incessantly when prices are low. Of course, one thing farmers don’t complain about when prices are low are the equally low prices of inputs like, say, FERTILIZER. So what are we left with? Not much. One group of oversprotected rent-seekers complaining about another group over overprotected rent-seekers.
I’m going to have some bumper stickers made up:
IF YOU FARMED TODAY, THANK A TAXPAYER