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Battle Strategies

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Maple Leaf Angus

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This is a column of mine published in Feb., 2004. As you can gather from it, I happen to be one who believes that less government interference (either subsidies or regs.) in agriculture makes for more farmers and better markets.

Original Design -
Battle Strategies

At 4:30 in the afternoon we unloaded the log skidder by the woodlot in which we planned to do a selective harvest. Since there wasn't much point in starting the job that late in the day, the farm owner and we loggers stood at the log landing site and engaged in casual conversation before heading home.
Our amiable visit stood in stark contrast to the pitched battle taking place nearby where the farmer's two young sons were embroiled in a knock'em down, drag'em out fight. This battle was “no holds barred”. Neither was winning and they were wearing down.
The farmer didn't even seem to notice the murder in progress beside us until one of the combatants yelped in pain from a sharp jab to the ear. In response to the yell of pain, the formerly oblivious Dad merely turned his head in the general direction of the ongoing battle and pitched his voice just loudly enough to be heard over the ruckus and said “GO RIGHT AT IT BOYS”. There was no support or punishment for either one from him.
The reaction from the little scrappers was unforgetable. The fighting stopped in mid swing and after eyeing each other briefly, they took off in search of a better target for their energies. The fight was over and they were setting out to conquer the world with their combined strength.
What was in that wise father's words that brought about such a miraculous response from two bitter foes who seemed to be set on destroying each other only seconds before? How could a seemingly unconcerned directive such as was issued, have the exact outcome that the father wanted and with so little effort on his part?
Could it be that the boys had inflicted so much pain on each other that when they saw that no help was coming from their dad, they decided to take a less damaging and more peaceful approach to life?
It was as if they suddenly realized that they were entirely responsible for the results of their own actions.
It struck me recently as I recalled that classic fight of many years ago that there has been a similar battle going on in agriculture for some time now. Many producers are going to stand their ground, not give in, and get whatever extra production base or market share they can, regardless of the pain both caused or received in the process, by whatever means at hand.
But when the yelps of distress get too loud, what response do we get from those keeping an eye on the industry? Why, the expected, of course. Every one gets support from the government and the bigger your pain the more you get. It's only fair and normal, isn't it? But have we ever thought that it also helps keep the battle going?
It makes one wonder what would happen if, like that smart father, Ottawa and Queen's Park would take the same “hands off” approach to the cries of the participants of the agricultural industry. Could it be that when farmers see that they are on their own that the level of corporate aggression and selfish competitiveness would drop off sharply while contentment, co-operation and a sense of personal responsibility would again make agriculture a more pleasant way of life?
Perhaps that is exactly what past and present governments are leaning toward, but not saying, in their ag policy development or lack thereof. However, if that is the case, they need to state firmly and clearly to those farmers rolling in the dirt, “Go right at it, Boys”.
Care to think about it? There is so much to be learned from that simple, quiet philosophy. It is not too late in the day to change strategies.
 

Hanta Yo

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Maple Leaf Angus,

So true are your words and how much I agree!!! There a number of ranchers in this part of the country who have most of their land in CRP and don't have to do anything, just get a gov't check. I think the more gov't interference the less we seem to know how to do for ourselves. Good philosophical writing, my hat's off to you!!! :)
 

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