Farmers fight back against unfair attacks

Letters to the Editor (The Guardian)
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Media tour shows kinder, gentler side of agriculture

Hold it for a minute. Farmers are getting a bad rap these days. The recent flood of comment against deep-water wells and pesticide spraying is painting an unflattering picture of farmers as greedy abusers of the land. The P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture is so concerned that it helped organize a media tour of farm operations around the province to allow members of the press to see for themselves what is happening on the family farm and tell

other Islanders about the kinder, gentler side of farming.

Farmers are much more concerned than their urban neighbours in safeguarding the land as a legacy for future generations. They are reluctant to apply pesticides and only do so as a last resort in order to protect their crops and investments. More and more, farmers are using the latest technology to operate more efficiently. Farmers are already heavily regulated in each and every thing they do — how many acres they can own, where they can cultivate, what they can plant and how often they must rotate their crops.

It just takes one or two hot button issues like water and spraying to paint an unfortunate, negative picture of the entire industry. Let’s not forget that farmers are our friends and neighbours who chair rink boards, serve as elders in our churches etc. and remain the cornerstone of rural P.E.I. Most importantly, they are producers of the fresh and safe food we consume each and every day.

It's amazing how few Islanders are aware where their food comes from and how it’s produced. We walk into a store or supermarket and there it is — all cheaply priced, neatly packaged and garden fresh.

Do we care how much time, money and labour were invested in that product?  Yet, we still expect that cheap and plentiful food supply to keep appearing, as if by magic.

Weekend thoughts

At first glance, the heading on a Guardian sports story this week looked incongruous: ‘Chicago deal gives Richards shot at Cup.’ And playing in New York didn’t, after the Rangers lost in the Stanley Cup final? Richards made out OK in his free-agent contract and compliance buyout, both executed by the Rangers. The Rangers made a business decision by buying out the last six years of Richards’ nine-year, $60-million contract. Overall, he will make $51 million in salary earned and deferred over the next 12 years. So money wasn’t a huge consideration, but winning a Stanley Cup, and rehabilitating his career, were.

Raise your glass. Few of us needed much of an excuse to drink a cold, frosty beer over the past week in these hot, humid weather conditions. Now we have an affirmation for our choice of beverage. The Care2 Healthy Living Inc. lists five healthy reasons to drink beer, which comes with some surprising health perks. When consumed in daily moderation (one 12-ounce serving for women; two 12-ounce servings for men), beer can be a boon to your health. It is a good source of micronutrients, helps build a stronger skeleton, helps prevent blood clots, lowers heart disease risk and lowers kidney stone risk. Hurrah for the humble brewski. Sláinte mhaith!

The story of some hens living in penthouse luxury in Freetown has ruffled some feathers in other chicken coops across the province. A poultry farm operated by the Burns family has installed the latest housing cages for their hens. For the bashful Rhode Island Red, there is a private, curtained-off area for laying eggs, while the leggy White Leghorn gets a scratching board to keep those

pointed nails in perfect conformity. Alas for the Plymouth Rock which is heading for the kitchen crock-pot.

Organizations: P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture, Rangers, Care2 Healthy Living

Geographic location: Chicago, New York, Freetown Rhode Island Red

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Recent comments

  • WE DO KNOW
    July 07, 2014 - 08:08

    We do know where our food comes from. The majority of affordable food comes from the rest of Canada and the US. Whenever you see a sign that reads Island Grown the price is usually two or sometime three times the price of the same product sitting beside it. I know a lot of people say they don't mind paying more for Island food but there is a line between being helpful and foolish.

    • Get Real
      July 08, 2014 - 06:42

      Two or three times the price is extremely exaggerated. In most cases it would be about 40 to 60 percent higher. I would rather my money stayed here to support island farmers than to give it to big corporations. Money isn't everything.

  • factual
    July 06, 2014 - 00:03

    fact - the pesticides and fungicides come from farmers along with fertilizers and other chemicals. Fact - fish kills and dying water ways and river are a result of farming.Fact - farmers are clearing land on an Island where there is already too much cleared. Fact - The deep water well threat is a direct result of farming. Are your feelings hurt farmers?? Aww sorry,were just tired of cancer and asthma and dead waterways and...you know,stuff like that. Why don't you farmers show you care....oh yeah because you don't.

    • Not Stupid
      July 07, 2014 - 07:22

      Your comment is rather harsh. Farmers do care. They are feeling trapped. They can't see a way out. The only solution to this is to help farmers find a way out. They are human beings. They have families and, yes, they do care. It's hard for anyone to change their thinking when they've spent their whole life trying justify why they're doing something they know is harming the land and the water and their neighbors.

  • How It Is
    July 05, 2014 - 16:41

    I don't think anyone hates farmers. People are starting to get wise about where their food comes from and they don't like what they see. Big corporations like the Irvings forcing farmers to use their products and do things their way or be closed down. Islanders are the first to step up and help one another when there's a need. Farmers who cut the ties with the Irvings can always depend on Islanders helping them out. As it stands, farmers are addicted to pesticides and the big corporations are their dealers. It has to stop. A four-year-old child could tell you what will happen if you constantly pour poison on the land and it seeps into the water and blows around in the wind. It can only go on for so long before everything is poisoned.

  • Stewart Smith
    July 05, 2014 - 16:03

    The farming system is broken on PEI. We are all to blame, but that doesn't mean we should all suffer cancer and asthma and water poisoning just to maintain the status quo. Enough people have written to the editor, and attended standing committee meetings, to make it quite clear that certain things should not be allowed on PEI. Bullying from the Irvings is one.

    • patrick
      July 05, 2014 - 18:29

      easy to complain with your mouth full, isn't it?

    • Stewart Smith
      July 06, 2014 - 16:08

      Wow, why don't we all just lie down and let the big corporations walk all over us!

  • Peter
    July 05, 2014 - 06:52

    It's amazing how few Islanders are aware where their food comes from and how it’s produced. We walk into a store or supermarket and there it is — all cheaply priced, neatly packaged and garden fresh. When I read the last eight words of this "opinion", (all cheaply priced, neatly packaged and garden fresh) I thought to myself, "What world does this guy live in?" and I stopped reading.

    • Farmer
      July 05, 2014 - 10:34

      Our food is cheap! You compare what portion of Canadian's budget goes for food compared to other countries and you will see that is a very small portion of our income.