Time for responsible farmers, citizens to step up

Letters to the Editor (The Guardian)
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Guest Opinion by Dale Small

Some are saying this issue is a “fait accompli” for the Island. I, for one,  certainly hope not.

During my lengthy career with DFO, I attended numerous community hall meetings where use of P.E.I. water resources was the topic. The meeting halls were packed. Obviously we Islanders are passionate about water and rightly so. I’ve also been fortunate to have explored every watershed on P.E.I. for both work and pleasure. I’ve seen firsthand the harm we can do.

The powerful potato lobby is pushing hard to gain access to our water resources, and I expect the government will use a (hopefully unbiased) scientific study to justify their decision to grant or deny permissions.

After many years of working directly with the scientific community on fisheries/water issues, I generally have great respect for their knowledge and expertise. That said, they are not always correct. Scientific studies are, like many other professional studies, only as good as the persons conducting them, along with the validity of the data provided or obtained.  

The most misleading studies I’ve read are those that use data appropriate on the mainland and that fail to account for P.E.I.’s unique soil composition, substrate and geology. Failure to do so has been and can be a disaster.

In this instance, I don’t believe Islanders should take the risk. It is simply not worth it; especially considering the gross inefficiency of current potato irrigation methods and the dire consequences to P.E.I. from over-exploitation of our water resources.

As a lifelong reader of The Guardian, I’m well aware of the blowback directed at letter writers. Some will say “he’s anti-farming.” Not true. Many of my friends and relatives are farmers. My ancestors on P.E.I. from all sides of my family have been involved in farming since the 1760s. I wish nothing but prosperity for our farming community — but always with one essential caveat: don’t harm our fragile environment.

Although many in the farming community have recognized what is at stake and made significant efforts to farm responsibly, the record is not good. This is a perfect opportunity for responsible farmers to step up. To all other Islanders I also urge you to step up. Call, write your MLA, your friends and the media. Others I urge to step up are: Premier Ghiz, Janice Sherry, George Webster, and Valerie Docherty — my MLA, do the right thing. Whether you are an urban or rural dweller or a CFA, get involved: don’t allow this high-risk plan to harm our precious Island.

Dale Small, Rice Point, spent his career with Fisheries and Oceans Canada on P.E.I.

Organizations: Fisheries and Oceans Canada on P.E.I.

Geographic location: P.E.I.

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page