August 2010 Archives
I know many Canadian beef producers have been reluctant to consider the concept of supply managed beef production, but there may come a day when egos have to bite the bullet and seriously look at that option.
I understand the last rancher who used the words “supply management” at a producer meeting mysteriously ended up at the bottom of Lake Diefenbaker while on a quiet Sunday afternoon fishing trip. The really weird thing, he somehow got tangled up in a rope with three mineral blocks attached to it before he went overboard.
I make the comment about “supply management” after visiting an Alberta dairy farm recently. Yes, it is a big investment to establish a dairy, but then I don’t think a properly outfitted ranch comes cheaply, either. But this dairy farm was a place of growth and optimism. And that was a good thing to see.
A successful dairy requires investment, hard work, and plenty of attention to management details. The key to financial success is the dairy producer can sell product into an assured market and make a decent return on investment.
Boy, wouldn’t that be a nice change for the beef industry, rather than hoping that a cull cow is worth more than 25 cents, and reliving fond memories of the time 10 years ago when calves actually sold for $1.30 pound.
I am not going to lead the charge on this one, but I have to wonder if whatever downside of supply managed beef is any worse than the grief, anxiety, and frustration beef and perhaps even hog producers have gone through in recent years.
Supplying a quality product, into a steady market, and being paid a fair price – it seems to me that’s what everyone is hoping for.
(Oh, yes, if I am not seen for three days, please tell my family I love them.)
A quick trip from Calgary to Saskatoon, last week, cross country through Hanna then to Kindersley and Rosetown, to Perdue and then Saskatoon, gave me a 110-kph snapshot of what’s happening with crops in that part of the world. I wasn’t driving.
There was everything from some excellent wheat, canola and pea crops north of Drumheller, to some poorer looking stands as we head east, fields with standing water around Kindersley, nice but patchy fields as we head north to the ‘toon. And then there were a few hundred acres of this mystery crop (pictured). What is this stuff?
Many canola fields were finished bloom, others were still hard at it. One field of winter wheat, I suspect, in the Oyen area was beginning to turn, and in another area in Saskatchewan there was a scraggly field of something that looked like it was only about five inches tall. Too early for a new winter wheat seeding, but it was something. Quite a few fallow fields over that distance – some chemfallow, some tilled.
And in quite few places I saw some ‘what the hell is that’ crops. It was either poor canola with volunteer grains, or patchy grain fields with lots of volunteer canola. And then too, maybe it was just a great stand on weeds. Mind you, as plant pathologist/crop specialist Ieuan Evans emphasized to me the other day – ‘why the hell are farmers who weren’t able to get fields seeded this spring bothering with chemfallow or conventional fallow this year? If the fields weren’t seeded because of too much moisture, let the weeds grow. They will use moisture. And there are plenty of effective herbicides on the market to deal with weeds later this summer of early fall.’ That was his theory, anyway.
Another obvious observation, particularly in Saskatchewan – work is still needed to get an effective herbicide for lentils. Some fields were pretty good, and others were actually quite dirty. It was made even more obvious as I passed thousands of acres of nice, even, clean looking wheat, barley and/or canola and then bang, there would be a lentil field – thistle patches, volunteer cereals and canola and other weeds towering above the crop. Is that just a timing issue, or are producers limited to effective products?
It was a great trip to see who had blocked drill runs at seeding, or patches of weeds missed by the sprayer, or plugged sprayer nozzles. I’ll have to get my roadside autosteer/gps stand set-up in a couple places.
One of the most amazing sights on this trip was a sandwich-board sign on Highway 9 announcing that they now have exotic dancers in the hamlet of Sibbald, Alberta, which is just west of the Saskatchewan border. Who knew? This is probably an entertainment feature at the Sibbald Saloon. Man, if we didn’t have crops to check out on this trek, we would have stopped to catch a show. I see they also were advertising RV sites. Now, if I can just convince my wife we could skip the next camping trip to the mountains, and head to Sibbald to see the scenery there. She could shop all day, and I could check out the feature entertainment. Somehow, I don’t think that is going to happen.