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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

The snow just keeps getting deeper in Saskatchewan. I don’t think we have missed a day in the last week when there wasn’t something to shovel, push with the tractor or blow with the snow blower.

The amount of snow pack is certainly starting to way on the minds of people across the province in all sorts of occupations. The agricultural sector is certainly starting to think about what spring might look like.

When I was in Saskatoon last week at the Crop Production Show, I had the opportunity to visit with many people from across the province and catch up with old acquaintances. The prime topic of conversation is invariably about how wet it was last year, the amount of snow that everyone seems to have and what the prospects are for everyone to go seeding in the spring. While there, I took the opportunity to go to two seminars which fit in with this particular topic. One was by Mr. Drew Lerner who runs a weather forecasting service called World Weather Inc. and the other was put on by Sask Agriculture because they are now delivering the Federal AgriStability Program and how it would work in conjunction with crop insurance. Mr. Lerner’s organization was able to predict last year’s weather almost to a “t” and he brought along all sorts of data, charts and graphs to show us what his best guess is for 2011. It wasn’t pretty. It was basically more of the same with very small windows of opportunity for spring seeding and no real good harvest weather until mid September 2011. Even though the northern hemisphere is moving out of the El Nino phase and into the La Nina phase, it appears we are going to be where the highs and lows bang their heads against one another and the result is precipitation for months to come. He certainly had the thousands of people in attendance at the show all talking about his presentations.

The other session with AgriStability and Crop Insurance was nothing new and from my observation, simply brought out frustration in an already frustrated farm community because if you number one, can’t get a crop established there is no crop insurance other than the flooded acreage benefit and number two, two crop failures in a row drags down your five year average and means that the Federal programs also do nothing for you. No where in the mix is there any kind of revenue insurance that a producer can buy to help them get past what could be another very frustrating year and I’m afraid could be the financial undoing of many farm families.

One doesn’t want to call the weather in the middle of January because it’s always winter in Saskatchewan, but I am amazed at the lack of planning and foresight that seems to be exhibited by our public officials – both elected and non-elected – in the face of what could be a very challenging year for Saskatchewan. Perhaps Mr. Wall should get his Cabinet Minister Cheveldayoff away from the domed stadium file and dedicate him to the flooded Saskatchewan file so that all of our cities, towns, villages, RMs and farmers are prepared for the spring of 2011. If people and communities are well-prepared and the worst doesn’t happen, so be it. But good planning means that we will at least know that people won’t be left in the lurch and everyone should sleep a little better.

Once again, so much for government accountability. Apparently the Premier was recently in Toronto speaking to a private club about topics that he wouldn’t reveal to the media but the flight and accommodations for him and his personal staffers were all paid for by you and me – the taxpayers of Saskatchewan. It’s amazing how politicians who get good polling numbers a couple of quarters in a row think that they can do anything they want and not be held accountable. This is a politician who was extremely hard on the previous NDP government about such transgressions and vowed that he would never have the same attitude. I guess the old adage is true – never say never - especially in politics.

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