Patriot Interviews: Terry Boehm, President of the National Farmers Union of Canada

Canadian Patriot Interviews

Terry Boehm, President of the National Farmers Union of Canada:  An Introduction

By Matthew Ehret-Kump

Globalization has wrecked a devastating amount of havok upon the physical economic potential and sovereignty of every nation in the world and Canada is no exception. In the years following the 1971 take down of the Bretton Woods system and accelerated under NAFTA, the North American economy has become subjected to the “monetization” of food production to the point that vast cartels such as Cargill, and Archer Daniels Midland have destroyed much of the small and medium agricultural farms and industrial enterprises which once served as the backbone of the north American economy. Although this onslaught has been devastating, and great potential has been destroyed, Canada yet remains a vital producer in global foodstuffs and key in a new global economic recovery.

Although Canada’s population remains highly underdeveloped, it yet remains the world’s leading producer for Canola, lentils and peas, and ranks 5th for wheat, 6th for porc and 7th for soybeans. The five major grains and seeds produced by Canada’s 260 000 farmers has amounted to an average yield of almost 50 million tonnes/year since 2000, although 2012 has seen a high yield of 51.6 million tonnes. 90% of that grain production is exported with primary exports going to the United States, China, and Japan.

This high 2012 yield has nothing to do with a successful agricultural policy, but is merely the effect of a 1) commodities speculation 2) drought/flood ravaging of U.S. agriculture and 3) the genocidal food-for-food bio fuel programs implemented largely under the 2000-2013 Bush-Obama regime. The rise in yields is thus entirely speculation-driven, and not in any way the effect of a mission to end hunger or the effect of an intention to accomplish anything meaningful to society.

The potential to double world food production in the short term can only occur on the condition that the entire green-speculative system is shut down with Glass-Steagall and replaced by an international commitment to end world hunger, driven by the construction of the nuclear NAWAPA XXI, and Bering Strait rail connection. This approach, driven by Canada’s cooperation with Russia, China and a rehabilitated United States is the only way for America’s northern cousin to finally break its affiliation with the British Empire, and earn a rightful claim to full sovereignty.

In the following interview conducted on August 10, 2013 by Canadian Patriot, Terry Boehm, a Canadian farmer and President of the National Farmer’s Union recounts the primary dangers facing Canadian farming in the face of such secretive NAFTA-modeled free trade deals such as the Trans Pacific Partnership, the Canadian European Trade Agreement and the destruction of protectionist programs which threaten to decapitate Canadian farming. These lessons apply just as much to the American citizen and farmer as they do to the Canadian.

Terry Boehm, President of the NFU of Canada

Terry Boehm, President of the NFU of Canada

CP: What is the National Farmers Union, its role in Canada and your role as its President?

Terry: Well the National Farmers Union is Canada’s largest voluntary direct membership farm organization. So farmers have to want to join, and there are a lot of other organizations out there that farmers sort of become members of by nature of having sold some grain and a check off is applied and they are called members of assorted organizations. A “check off” is a sort of tax of every bushel that they might sell of an assorted grain or on an animal etc., so we’re different in the respect that farmers have to want to join and we’re 99% financed by farmer membership fees.

CP: What do you see as the NFU’s role in the protection of farmers and your own role?

Terry: The organization itself has several objects. We are trying to advance the economic and social interests of farmers and that dovetails into broader citizenship. So we do that through education, analysis and activism. Traditionally we have been an organization that has advocated for legislation that would advance those objectives and largely we’ve been behind fights to retain the Canadian Wheat Board, to rein in the big railways, to rein in large multinational grain trading and meat packing interests, and international trade agreements as well.

CP: I’d like to get a better sense of the greatest threats now to Canadian farming, especially the small and medium farmer. You brought up the matter of the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB). This is the 1st year anniversary of its take down. What do you see as the main ramifications of this maneuver by the Harper government, and do you see any opportunities to bring the CWB back?

Terry: We’ve had quite dark days in Canadian agriculture policy and beyond with the Harper government.  We do know that Harper will not be in place indefinitely, nor his Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. So we’re looking towards helping to facilitate more responsible policy in the future with whatever government might be in place, but we know that this government has been particularly aggressive at dismantling any farmer-friendly institutions, or a regulatory environment that supports small, or medium-size farms. And again, that is the mandate of the NFU, to promote those as the fundamental food producing units in Canada.

CP: Certainly one of the biggest justifications for shutting down the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) was its incompatibility with the international system of speculative finance which has created a huge instability in the prices of agricultural commodities, and pretty much everything else in our lives that we use. It was said that, under the CWB’s single desk, the farmers were being deprived of the types of prices they could otherwise have gotten had the regulation not been there. How would you speak to that?

Terry: Well, the Canadian Wheat Board as a single desk seller gave us some advantages in both branding Canadian wheat and barley and also in the possibility of negotiating stronger prices and returning those stronger prices to the farmer, less a small administrative fee.  With the dismantling of the CWB, that was one of the last institutions that gave western Canadian farmers (it only operated in the western Canadian jurisdiction) some agency to balance the powers of really massively huge international companies that dominate the movement and exports of grains and foodstuffs around the world. With the loss of that, essentially we’re left with dealing with these companies that have far greater financial influence and powers than any individual farmer will ever achieve, and as a consequence we will financially suffer under that system. There’s no two ways around it.

And we’ve been told that the instruments are available to us for commodities trading, futures markets trading, options, calls and the whole collection of, actually, really – derivatives. The grain trade was sort of the early example of the derivatives market and has carried on as such.

So I think that farmers are at a severe disadvantage, and the Harper government is now going after the Canadian Grain Commission – essentially incapacitating that which was an institution which was mandated to act in the interests of grain producers.  Its fundamental role was to guarantee the quality of Canadian grain; and to balance the powers, where there were disputes on grade and dockage between an individual farmer and a big company or big railway, so that it acted with a final say in any of those disputes. It moved the disputes outside of the court system and the grain commission tribunals. Commissioners would grade the grain and their say was final, for both the companies and the farmers.

Increasingly what we’re seeing, and we ran into this during the CWB fight, is farmers or citizens being forced to use the courts, which are very slow and expensive. Often in that system, you’re up against the financial wealth of these large players who have huge legal resources, or the money to hire expensive legal resources. They can delay things. Often court decisions take a very long time to come, and you never know whether you’ll be successful or not. In Canada, with the Supreme Court Justices being appointed, you can determine over time (if a government has been in place long enough) some of the characteristics of that institution by the nature of the people appointed as justices.

Actually, The Canadian Wheat Board example in many ways represents a perversion of democracy. The farmers who utilize the CWB in western Canada, the vast majority of them, have always supported having that institution in place. It was in 1998 that the legislation was changed allowing it to be directed by farmer-elected board of directors, so it was kind of a mixed management institution with 10 elected directors and 5 directors appointed by the government. This was rested away by the Harper government, along with significant farmer assets, including a $200 million contingency fund, the rail cars the Wheat Board had and the building itself. And this was all taken away with the legislation that Harper rammed through with extraordinary measures, for example, normally a bill dismantling the Canadian Wheat Board would have gone to the Agriculture Committee for amendments and examinations. Well he created a special committee outside of the Agriculture Committee to look at the agriculture legislation, accepted absolutely no amendments which is characteristic of this government and also had the bill go through the Senate at the same time it was going through the special committee in the [House of] Commons. So it was rammed through with lightning speed and it ignored section 47-1 that is in the original 1998 legislation that said that farmers should have a vote and a say in changes to the CWB. They ignored that completely and they simply “well we’re the government. That’s enough of a vote for you guys”.

So I think one of the big worries in democratic processes is that citizens are increasingly being forced to use the courts rather than having their legislators act in a responsible manner.

CP: It becomes a perversion of this whole “survival of the fittest logic” where you say “eat or be eaten”.

Terry: Yeah that’s very much the attitude of the government and the federal Department of Agriculture in particular. “Those who survive are obviously the good managers in this environment and that’s how it should be”.

CP: I was just watching a presentation by the President of the Illinois branch of the National Farmers Union who was going through how the average age of farmers is now over 60, young people aren’t going into farming any more, and the upstream/downstream cartels are reaping all the benefits whereas the producer is being chucked, making it not very appealing for young people. Has this process which I have just described in the U.S. been avoided by Canadian agriculture, or have we had a parallel issue?

Terry: No very much parallel. Although the U.S. [situation] has actually been mitigated by an awful lot of public funding going into agriculture… much more so than in Canada, through their various farm bills. So we’ve actually experienced this in a more severe way than in the USA and only recently (and I think it’s only for a brief moment), we’ve had a little bit better farm prices, caused by several factors, including an interest in agricultural commodities by speculative funds, and partly by an ethanol mandate in the USA which has driven up prices somewhat, and some weather related problems as well… but all that aside, the number of farmers has reduced drastically. In a vast agricultural nation like Canada, there are only about 220 thousand farmers and those farmers are carrying about 65 billion dollars of debt amongst a very small subset of the population. So the “so called prosperity” being announced for agriculture I think is really not there. We’re seeing at the same time, agricultural land becoming the latest parking ground for all these pools of capital that have been created by “quantitative easing” in the US, which is essentially “printing money” in Europe and the USA, so they’re looking for real assets to park their money in, and the price of agricultural land has skyrocketed in a few years and this again makes it very difficult given the small margins that are characteristic of agriculture for young people to get into farming.

And it’s true, the average age of Canadian farmers is also in that 55-60 year range.

CP: When agricultural land is purchased by international speculators, is this land being taken out of commission? Is this land no longer used for agriculture?

Terry: No it’s being used, but in general it’s being rented back to farmers. Unfortunately one of the models that’s showing up now because of those exact extreme high capital costs for equipment, fertilizers, and the farmland itself; the new entrepreneurial model is, “ well farmers just lease your land, and lease the equipment, cover massive acreages, and off you go … and when the bubble bursts, then move on”. So this is not a long term vision for sustainable agriculture, including the sustainable element of people and multi-generational farms. So what we’re seeing is a lot of money coming in with the liberalization of land ownership laws across the country, it varies province by province, but nevertheless they have been liberalized in the last number of years.  Pension funds, other capital funds, buying farmland … where I as a Saskatchewan farmer: a decade ago it might have taken me some time to sell my farm, July 26, 2017 I could phone any number of real estate agencies that are representing these capital funds, and sell it over night. So the land is still used for agricultural production. But again, in terms of productive value and reasonable rates of return, the value of it is out of whack. Because it’s no longer based on those factors, but based on this speculative drive that supposedly land is undervalued. It’s a bit like the housing market. I think it’s one of those bubbles that will eventually burst.

The other fundamental problem, in agriculture, and I think you do some work around this, is parity pricing. In reality what is considered a boom in agricultural farm-gate prices right now is no boom at all. My father in the 1970s was receiving the same nominal value in the last “agricultural price boom”, as I am receiving today for some flax, canola, wheat and barley. The prices were almost identical. In the last months we’ve had a bit of a collapse in prices, they’re actually below those levels now. And yet the purchasing power of that grain in the mid 1970s at the nominal values of today was far higher. For 3000-4000 bushels of wheat he could buy a brand new tractor. Well now, a new tractor is around $400 thousand and it would take anywhere from 65-75 thousand bushels of wheat to purchase a new tractor. So comparatively it’s not a boom at all! Nor actually in this whole food debate are the prices higher. They’re not. Because those same nominal values, the end processed product in the 1970s was far lower priced than it is now. A loaf of bread, box of cereal, beer or whatever made from these sorts of products was far cheaper in the 1970s with the same nominal value of the grain going into it than it is now.

CP: This is an important issue you’re bringing up, because back in the early 1970s we still had the spirit of a productive agro-industrial society whereas the new “religious dogma” has increasingly become that “we’re in a post-industrial consumer society where we don’t really have to think about projects for the future, or the physical aspects of what underlies human society. The idea that by letting “the markets” take over, mystical forces that no one seems to fully understand, wealth happens. This whole shift has not only destroyed our agricultural powers of production but our industrial powers too. Now we find ourselves sitting on all these bubbles ready to pop like you said, and it’s like we’re sitting in the eye of the storm unless action is taken.

Terry: Well in my career, I started farming in 1981, and I’ve seen numerous booms and busts. Mostly busts for a long extended period of time with little one or two year slight booms, and then we had in the run up to the 2008 financial crisis, in 2007 we had a spike in agricultural prices, but again, only marginally above the nominal values that we saw 30-35 years ago. And I think that’s part of the problem for young people entering agriculture. If they have any sense of history or if they’re eyes are open at all, they realize that it’s an extremely volatile industry and getting more volatile. Indeed that’s what the future market is like, its volatility, as speculators can make money on both the falling of grain prices or the rising of grain prices as they can go short and long. And they have a whole pile of other instruments that they can use, such that a steady pricing regime isn’t so interesting.

CP: That seems like one of the crazy things. There are all sorts of new mechanisms which put a profit on the destruction of our productivity. Not only on what you mentioned regarding selling short to make money on the destruction of the economy but also you have things like biofuels, which as you mentioned earlier have been taking off, more in the United States, I’m not sure what the situation is in Canada, and how much of our crops are going to burning for gasoline tanks. Is there a similar situation in Canada?

Terry: Yeah there’s a certain amount of mandated ethanol mixtures and biodiesel in our fuels. As a farmers organization we very early challenged this whole idea of biofuels and the energy balances. If you looked at a whole systems perspective, probably the energy consumption was exceeding the energy produced from biofuels, so we worried about that in terms of diverting land from food production to sort of negative energy production [laughs]. One of the problems though that we have in agriculture is that it’s extremely energy intensive.  To a large extent, with fertilizers, pesticides and fuel requirements and the scale up of individual farmers we’re essentially converting energy into food, and the biofuels thing is converting food into energy which takes a tremendous amount of energy to produce. This touches a bit on the perpetual motion idea, but it just can’t work!

CP: Yeah it seems like there’s a collapse point built into that, especially when you have seven billion people on the earth, it seems kind of like a remnant of that medieval idea of bleeding yourself to get healthy.

Terry: Of course the hesitation amongst farmers, in terms of their own personal economic survival, which is always tenuous… the biofuels mandate in the USA and other places has led to a general rise in agricultural commodity prices, and so if that disappeared, we wonder if we would return to the extreme money losing prices that we went through for almost 25 years. So while we understand the equation and the insanity of it, unless there are other adjustments made in this agriculture-commodity pricing system, we also understand that we’re going to be individually economically impacted. Now globally it doesn’t make any sense, but neither does the way agricultural production is determined by a pricing system that is dominated, even manipulated, by these players that dominate international trade.

CP: You mentioned that you were aware that our organization endorses parity pricing, but obviously another blowback you tend to get against this proposition, is that under the current speculative system, if you did parity pricing in one country, it would bankrupt the farmers, as it would force their prices to rise such that they couldn’t stay competitive with the Monsantos. Right now there are increasingly loud calls for a reorganization of the financial system around a Glass-Steagall separation of speculative activities, which would no longer receive government protection, from commercial banking activities which support the real productive economy and thus must be protected. If that were to occur and the derivatives system were wiped out – do you think that under a new financial system, getting rid of biofuels, and returning to parity pricing could be viable?

Terry: Well I did read your article very quickly earlier this morning on Glass-Steagall. I think that at least on the surface, that makes a lot of sense. The separation of investment banking from commercial banking, I think that would make a lot of sense. I think fundamentally though, from an agricultural perspective, there was a great debate about parity pricing in the 1940s up until the 1970s, and then it kind of evaporated.

I think we have such huge problems now, just in terms of examining agriculture just from an energy consumption scale, land degradation, water utilization – that we really have to be cautious. For example, if we’re going to continue on a very energy-intensive form of agriculture, then we actually have to start thinking of our energy resources and allocating them for agricultural production. There’s also a great debate about organic, or ameliorated, agricultural production which reduces the consumption of synthetic fertilizers that are energy-based, and moving into an agriculture system that reduces the consumption of these high energy inputs and maintains productivity. That requires a rethink and real research and an examination of the possibilities that are out there.

Right now what farmers are confronted with is that independent research has disappeared from our universities. One of the most pernicious things that happened about seven years ago was a thing called the “matching investments initiative”, where agricultural public researchers first had to source 50% of their funding from a private source to proceed down a specific line of research. So what do you get at the end of the day but crop varieties and production methods that increase the consumption of inputs supplied by these same private entities that put up 50% of the financing. So there’s a whole series of greater and lesser changes in the regulatory/political environment that are forcing us down this particular path we’re going that isn’t replacing people in agriculture. Like your farmer in Illinois said, it isn’t a very encouraging profession to undertake, and this is the case all around the world. Farmers are aging and we’re going to run into a demographic crisis unless we can get more and more people to return to agriculture.

Even on my own farm, if it was a smaller unit with more people able to make a living and more attention paid to smaller parcels of land then I think productivity would rise.

CP: I haven’t yet gotten the chance to ask you about this other pernicious program which is being pushed CETA (the Canada-European-Trade-Agreement) as well as its accompaniment, the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) which your organization has really been on the forefront battling. What are these programs and how will they hurt the Canadian economy?

Terry: One of the big things, as I mentioned earlier about this model of agriculture where farmers lease land and equipment, is the loss of autonomy in how you organize and how you produce in agriculture and beyond.  Both CETA and the TPP destroy the economic autonomy of citizens en masse. The classic investor protection clauses of NAFTA are being advanced in these programs, where corporations can sue for lost future profits – which hobbles us in our ability to legislate and regulate in the public interest. We can do that as long as we’re willing to pay millions and billions to corporations that argue that their future profits are impacted. But worse than that is that in CETA for example, you cannot favour the supplier of a local good or service over any other supplier of the equivalent good or service. For example, CETA is with the European Union, so any contract at the provincial level, over $335 thousand, you’d have to tender internationally, and accept an international supplier of those goods or services, and at the federal level its only $125 thousand! That prohibition would affect, for example, the ability to enact a local food policy in any institution, specifically what they call the MUST sector (municipalities, universities, schools, hospitals or any other creature of government). So if you had a university, like the University of Toronto, which does have, in certain places, a “buy local food” policy – if it exceeded $335 thousand, they couldn’t specify that local purchasing element. So the very people that pay the taxes (local businesses, farmers, etc) would not be able to see the benefits of their own institutions purchasing from them.

In addition, there’s a prohibition, in CETA, and I suspect on the TPP on any restrictions on the movement of capital. One of the fundamental tools of monetary policy is control of the money supply. Governments do this from time to time to determine the value of their currency, to remain competitive, using interest rate policies, etc… Under CETA, you couldn’t restrict the movement of capital, so you couldn’t have a local investment policy or you couldn’t address the “balance of payments” deficits… and a series of other economic tools would no longer be possible. So you could only for a six month emergency period, enact any measure that would address a balance of payments issue. So very quickly, again, the ability to organize your own domestic economy in a manner that would bring stability or intelligence to the direction it takes, is essentially prohibited in these agreements.

Another piece that we’re extremely worried about in these agreements is the much greater enforcement and expansion of intellectual property. Intellectual property encompasses a number of things. The classic ones are copyright, trademark, patents, but there’s plant breeders rights, protection for electronic topographies, geographical indications which is similar to a trademark in some ways. It’s like who can use the word “mozzarella” or “champagne” or whatever it might be, to identify their products. In CETA, what they’ve done is to enforce these intellectual property provisions, the normal courts are given legislatively much greater powers and there are what are called “precautionary enforcement measures” which means that if someone was alleged to have infringed on an intellectual property right, they would see their moveable and immovable assets seized, they would have their bank accounts frozen and their financial data communicated to the complainant.  Here the courts essentially become a vehicle of the corporations, because its stated in there that even before the merits of the case are heard, the alleged infringer is supposed to be subjected to these enforcement provisions.

CP: So you’re guilty before being proven innocent

Terry: Yes. And essentially the idea is, so that the intellectual property rights holder can recapture the so called “damages” before the assets are dissipated, but it’s really quite unbelievable the extent of these “precautionary” enforcement measures.

In addition, the injunctions are to be issued to prevent these goods from entering into the channels of commerce, so for example, a farmer accused of having a patented gene in his crop could be prevented from selling his crop. Or if his seed was alleged to have a plant breeder’s right or a patented gene attached to it, he could be prevented from seeding it. Any third party alleged to have assisted in the alleged infringement – so, a trucking company, a seed cleaning company, I’m just using the agriculture example, but it applies to all sectors of society – would also be subjected to these same precautionary enforcement provisions, the  seizure of assets, etc. And, if that’s not enough, the instruments used in the production of the alleged infringing goods are to be destroyed! Now in agriculture that could mean, a farmer’s equipment, so you can take that to an extreme. Then they go on, and say that, in addition to these financial tools, that criminal processes should be used, at least initially, for copyright and trademark offenses, but the language is such that they would look towards an expansion of the criminal proceedings for other forms of intellectual property infringement.

So it’s really an unbelievable sledgehammer to make people comply with those parties that hold and control intellectual property rights, which are generally large entities, in seed for example, it’s the Monsantos, the Bayers and the Duponts for certain crop kinds. Many crop kinds were still publically developed varieties, but the Harper government is destroying the public capacity to do that with the drastic cuts to Agriculture Canada and the realignment with what they do with their research.

CP: So how do we stop this? How do you recommend farmers and regular citizens organize right now with their representatives to stop this from happening?

Terry: Well one of the things we have to demand, and this even comes from the far right, is transparency. What’s happening in the CETA and TPP, is the only reason I can quote the text is because someone has leaked the text to us. And I’ve had the texts verified that they are indeed accurate, at least what I’ve been seeing. This is incredible, that people would accept that these fundamental changes to how economies and governments can function, are being negotiated in secret, and only after a ratification process do we get to see what’s in them. And I talk to parliamentarians about specific clauses and they can’t speak to it, because “well, it’s not “official documents”, and what I’m talking about are leaked documents”. So they’re hobbled in responding in that regard.

I think citizens need to demand that absolutely these trade agreements, the Canada-China investment accord, etc, have to be discussed, debated publicly, in parliament, for everyone to see. What’s the headlong rush for these kinds of agreements? You know we have seen a dismantlement of our industrial capacity essentially in North America as a consequence of NAFTA for example. There’s been a great shift in concentration and movement to China and India where they can utilize extremely low-cost labour, but how are economies supposed to function? You know Canada is a “no brainer”. In that we have so many natural resources and so much agricultural capacity that it’s actually astounding that ANY government could manage this economy into a deficit position [laughter]. And our royalty regime is insane. We are giving away these resources and allowing them to be exploited. Whereas you look at countries like Norway: in oil, they capture 95% of the revenue for a sovereign wealth fund. Several years ago, this country of 4.5 million people had a $450 billion fund! And in Canada, with FAR more resources than Norway, we’ve managed to have governments with deficits and we need to have cut backs in our universities and our healthcare system and really any public institution is being dismantled essentially. HOW can we manage our economy in such an incredibly non-beneficial way for ordinary citizens?

CP: I’d like to end on one last question. If you were agriculture minister, it seems like you’ve described a major emergency, what would you do?

Terry: There would be a number of things. On the intellectual property front and plant breeders rights, in the TPP, which I didn’t touch on, there’s a move to bring in what’s called UPOV-91 (the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants, 1991 Convention). It’s a plant breeders rights template for international legislation that would essentially make it extremely hard for farmers to save and reuse seed which is something which farmers have done for millennia.

UPOV-91 would not be instituted in Canada. We would completely rethink intellectual property rights. Intellectual property rights like many advantages were part of a social contract where for a disclosure of the method of whatever the innovation was, the information after a monopoly period was granted, to market it, the information was made readily available to people so that those skilled in the art, could duplicate it later. That social contract is being destroyed by what we’re now running into. These intellectual property tools are being used, and when they expire, the parties just claim; “well they’re private property and we going to continue to exploit them”, so I’d be looking at that.

Giving farmers the ability to easily organize collective marketing agencies to operate in their advantage. Investing in varietal production, but with a conscious effort to figure out how to reduce the amount of energy based inputs into agriculture and increasing productivity at the same time. That’s certainly possible.

The concentration in the meat packing industry, in the grain industry, in rail and transport needs to be seriously looked at and broken up actually. The anti-Trust legislation in the USA of a century ago, now we have entities that are far bigger than those entities that were deemed to be harmful to the economy because of their size operating internationally.

Farm land ownership I think we should look at. Who are the appropriate owners and under what conditions? What size and scale? If we really want to open up the debate, there’s a real paranoia about regulating size of agriculture operations as some sort of “entrepreneurial destruction”, but I think there is a size that can be managed efficiently. It may vary from the individual manager, but nevertheless, if an appropriate income can be derived from a smaller entity, maybe that would make it more attractive for people to come back into agriculture.

Then there’s the insanity of destroying our rail system and forcing grain to be transported by truck in ever larger distances is something we’ve objected to for a long time. We used to have the ideal situation with many little branch line railways with pickup points at every little town. That made sense. And that was destroyed. Destroyed by short term interests (government and otherwise), that really from an energy consumption perspective, from an economic perspective doesn’t make any sense at all. It makes economic sense to the railways to destroy that system. It made a certain amount of sense to grain companies to destroy that system. Because they can “externalize costs” to farmers and to broader society and reap the benefits of it. So many costs have been externalized to farmers over these last few decades that farm debt (?) amongst the small amount of farms has gone up. They show up somewhere.

It’s kind of a question that I’d like to speak about longer, but those are some of the things that – if I was agriculture minister – I would start looking at very seriously.

CP: I think you’ve given Canadians and even our international readers a hell of a lot to think about. Thank you for taking the time.

Terry: My pleasure.