(November 25, 2015) Last week I was heading to town and saw my neighbour’s two combines and a truck out in the field straight combining some standing canola. This is a relatively new practice and doing so next to the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains near the end of November certainly says something about climate change and so-called technological progress. In this case it is claimed newer varieties of canola with thicker pods have made straight combining feasible but the seed to plant such a crop comes from a giant agro-chemical-seed company and is very expensive.
It is farmers who pay the real cost of this high input model and provide astronomical profits to the agro-chemical-seed companies. Known as the “canola model” and promoted by these giant companies, it entailed the privatization of the canola genome once paid for by farmers. Now canola not only costs more for variety development and delivers poorer results, but imposes those substantially higher costs on farmers, as any farmer growing canola can testify.
My neighbour out harvesting in November trying to salvage a canola crop which cost a fortune to plant and now having to worry about his canola crop becoming worthless as it goes rancid in the bins is paying that price.
In spite of evidence to the contrary, there are still some farmers who think following the canola model in wheat and barley would be a good thing. We know consumers have no desire to eat genetically modified food and most farmers understand that giving up their ownership of grain genetics to the giant agro-chemical-seed companies just means higher costs for them.
It will therefore be interesting to see if farmers use their mail-in ballots in the Saskatchewan Wheat, Pulse, and Barley Commission elections due at the end of this week to support candidates with their interests at heart or will they vote for those supporting the canola model.