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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - June 25, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta Tuesday, June 25, 1974 THE LETHBRIDQE HERALD Walter Shaw reflects on red land: Large farms 6a terrible mistake' By DOUG SMALL ST. CATHERINES, P.E.I. (CP) Ask Walter Shaw about Island farming as it used to be and the Buddhalike beam that breaks across his 86-year- old face tells all there is to know. The smile speaks of fond pride in the rolling red land first farmed by the former premier's forefathers nearly two centuries ago. It tells of hard, honest work that yielded riches that have little or nothing to do with money. On one level, the grin re- flects a contentment glean- ed from growing fine potatoes, raising good hogs and sleek cattle, building solid homes and barns. On another, it's a sign of freedom, community and individuality. Ask Walter Shaw about farming today and the smile' disappears. It's replaced by a pounding fist that rocks the tiny snowdrop in its glass on the kitchen table and a roll in his r's that sends the word "terrible" hurtling past the wood stove and into the tranquil quiet of his two- storey West.River country house. Pactor "They've made a terri- ble he says, wrapping up in a phrase his feelings about government land-buying policies, tight- ly organized marketing groups and the official at- titude that farming "has to be large to be worthy." "Acreage is a Mr. Shaw says with a boyish vigor. "But not such a tremendously big fac- tor." Instead, farmers serve themselves and the world better if they make what land they have "tell as highly as possible." A proper-sized farm might be as small as 50 acres, and it might be as large as 500 if a man had. sons to work with him. But fanners had proved that they must be diversified 'enough to ride out depressions in single com- modities and small enough to be able to control costs. Mr. Shaw's experience reaches back throughout his life, through 20 years as the province's deputy agriculture minister, eight years as premier of the 1958-65 Progressive Conservative government, a term as head of the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture, another as chairman of the Hor- ticulture Council of Canada, and years on his now-rented 100-acre potato, hog and beef farm here. He readily admits his theories don't necessarily make financially successful farmers. Relative "But richness is a relative thing. richer, for in- stance, a fellow who wins a million dollars or a person who has a good, happy life surrounded by the things his hands have He supports his theories another way, using farm statistics during the last few years to illustrate the effect of a generally- adopted government stance that older, poorer fanners should be eased off the land and replaced by fewer, but more aggressive, younger ones. Island land in farm production dropped acres to about between the farm census years 1966 and 1971. The number of farms decreas- ed to from dur- ing the same period. The number of farmers dropped correspondingly and have been decreasing at the rate of one a day ever since. There are only about 000 left. This has meant a steady drop in farm production. Potatoes, the province's main crop which represents more than a third of yearly farm in- come, were grown on 000 acres in 1972 compared with five years earlier. Production dropped to 8.27 billion pounds from 10.77 during that period. The number of cattle, second-largest farm in- BATTERY RENTAL? You can now rent your bat- tery needs for any seasonal equip, for any 4 month sea- son. EXAMPLE New 12 volt New LETHBRIDGE BATTERY CO. Z17-12SLTS..UMrie1i ftm 327-5587 dustry, slid to in 1971 from in 1966. Milk production declined to 181 million pounds in 1973 from 244 million in 1966. (A rare exception is to- bacco, where acreage had risen to acres in 1971 from a mere 607 five years before. Ironically, a government farm official expressed concern that a product harmful to health should be taking up land that could be used for food production.) The Liberal government of Alex Campbell, both premier and agriculture minister, has attempted to arrest this trend with programs aimed at help- ing young people get into the business. Land-banking programs under which would-be farmers can lease or buy farms on easy-credit and low-interest terms, a com- mission to screen sales of land to processing com- panies wishing to integrate their operations and other aids are being offered, along with a full range of federal programs. Allison Ellis, provincial representative on the NFU, expresses a different point of view. From his West Cape hog and potato farm, he says current farm problems are the result of steadily rising costs and the gradual swing into farming by processing plants interested in a guaranteed supply of potatoes and other crops. Major processers, Mr. Ellis says, have gradually been acquiring large tracts of farmland, arguing that they want to grow about 20 per cent of their annual needs to assure supplies in the off-season months of April, May and June. "It's a myth that-there's any free enterprise he says. "If Imperial Oil raises fuel prices, all fuel prices go up. If the Bank of Nova Scotia raises interest rates, all interest rates go up." What remains for farmers is the need to organize collectively and plan, the needs of their sec- tor of the farm economy. "Farming as it was is dead. "Land is not inherited from our fathers, but borrowed from our children." Farmers who organize like workers in other in- dustries lock themselves into a risky system where steadily rising costs must be met with steadily rising prices, Mr. Shaw says. ACORN POOLS NOW AVAILABLE Lelhbridge and Southern Alberta Special bonus if ordered before April 15 Put summer fun in your own back yard Do-it-yourself or have it built -either way your ACORN POOL will give years of fun in the sun. For more information contact: STANLEY'S DISTRIBUTORS Box 665, COALHURST, Alberta Phone 328-3402 DO YOU WANT TO BECOME A PROFESSIONAL? What does it take? H m 1 TRAINING Not only to beo'n but to continually upgrade SECURITY For some this means an adequate salary guarantee MANAGEMENT Not managers who compete for sales but assist EXPERIENCE The opportunity to work with threading salesmen in the industry if FINANCING Unlimited financial resources to help your client buy what hep wants to buy H MARKETING TECHNIQUES All of the best resources to give maximum posure of you client's home in the market place H I I would like you to have the opportunity of hearing the whole story from of our sales managers. If you call my office at 328-5365 my staff will arrange H a personal interview at a time and place convenient for you. BLOCK PBROS. BLOCK BROS. NATIONAL REAL ESTATE SERVICE LTD. sss Frank Tinordi 327-3478 TIM GRISAK328-2356 328-2266 evenings ;