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kpb
Jun 3, 2006 | 06:41 31 A couple of thoughts on this. First of all, the plan could be flexible enough, surely, to accomodate stockers, backgrounders, bred heifer producers, etc.

Secondly, there is no denying that, from a purely financial point of view, the dairyman is the most successful farmer in the country. Now you can say that this or that dairyman has gone under but I think that is a mighty rare occurrence. Year in and year out it is the dairy industry that prospers and the small hog and beef guys that wither on the vine.

In regards to quota--I favor grassfarmer's suggestion of a fixed quota. But for sake of argument lets look at spud's objection of a high entry fee to the industry based on rising quota. If it costs $1.2 million to own a viable dairy operation, what do you think it costs to own a sometimes viable beef operation? I figure a commercial cow-calf operator running a herd that sells calves in the fall needs 300 cows. I'm not talking about guys who work off the farm (how many dairy guys need to do that?)--but rather a full-time cow-calf man. The cows will cost $300,000 and in just about anywhere in Alberta the land base to run these animals will be at least $1 million.

All of this to gain entry to the cow-calf industry--an industry with an uncertain future, at least for the small guy (and unless we do something 300 cows will look small in 10 years time) and an industry where the prices the producer gets are set by huge, monopolistic, multi-national corporations and generally provide a poor relative living. As opposed to an industry where the prices are set by the producers themselves. And we like our current system???

Finally, again, the plan is voluntary. If anyone likes the current system, then stay with it, don't join up, keep the government out of your operation. The export market will still exist, just like it does now and you'll get the same price for your cattle you get now.

kpb Reply With Quote
Jun 3, 2006 | 10:21 32 A few things you might have missed kpb: A minimum stand alone dairy requires at least 100 cows(couple of Dutch dairy farmers have told me that)which means your quota is $3.5 million?(Again Dutch dairy farmers claim quota is 35K/cow)
Very unlikely you can buy the cows, barn, land, equipment for less than another $million?
I believe the mistake the government made was ever letting quota become real property? It should have always been allocated...until your farm quit milking cows and then it went to the next guy? The idea was supposed to be to manage supply...not as a get rich scheme?
It would appear, in the beef business, there is no end of optimists ready to plunk down their money for the opportunity to play cowboy? And a lot of them can afford to! This cow/calf business seems to have some sort of appeal, outside dollars and cents? Or sense? Almost like the horsey set?
The way I see it is let them go at it! If farmers can't make it pay...then probably no one can? But then they don't have to, right? Reply With Quote
Jun 3, 2006 | 13:11 33 I realize that it is going to be expensive to get into any agricultural business. My problem with the dairy business is that most of that investment will be in a paper asset that can disappear with the stroke of a bigwigs signature on a trade deal at any moment.
At least with another agricultural enterprise, I will be borrowing for "hard" assets that I can see and touch and as opposed to a piece of paper. Reply With Quote
Jun 3, 2006 | 17:38 34 Thank God there's somewhere in the world besides Alberta to run cows in-1,300,000 would probably get a 5-700 cow unit over here in 'have not' Saskatchewan-we've run cows here for 90 years but I think a quota system would pretty much do it for me. Our industry needs alot less government not alot more-over here where we ranch without Ralph's largesse we've learned to live like that. Reply With Quote
Jun 3, 2006 | 23:31 35 cswilson, I don't quite understand your last comments about learning to live like that, do you mean less government in Sask.? I thought NDP was a nannystate type of government !!!

Actually, we in Alberta, will be living without Ralph fairly soon !!! Reply With Quote
Jun 4, 2006 | 00:15 36 Alberta is alot more socialist in their handouts to Agriculture than the NDP's ever were-hate to shattter the free enterprise Alberta loves to cultivate but your government cow milks on a few more teats than ours does. Would love to pay your land taxes about a third of what ours are here for comparable land-but it's all good-if it was too easy more people would move here lol. Reply With Quote
Jun 4, 2006 | 06:45 37 The province does NOT set the land taxes cwilson. Those taxes are set by individual municipalities, and they vary from one area of the province to the other depending entirely on the assessment of the municipalitiy.

Municipalities with lower assessment or that are carrying a large debt usually have a higher millrate. In most cases farmland and residential mill rate is significantly less than commercial/industrial.

I think that your NDP auto insurance is likely considerably less than Alberta, at least until this province took steps to get insurance rates under control.

I would appreciate it if you would list some of these Alberta subsidies, maybe I am not getting some of them, thats why I don't realize what they are ! Reply With Quote
Jun 4, 2006 | 17:43 38 I just listen to my buddies in Alberta is all-during the drought we had Albertan's over here in June snapping up all the hay with their Ralpie bucks. Guys leasing pasture up here and getting government money to do it-guys buying 4D cows herew and hauling them west to sell the heads. I realize the provincial government doesn't set the land taxes but they must be kinder to the counties so they don't have to set the tax rate so high. Hey I got no problem with it I have no urge to move west-I kind of like it just where I am lol. That's the hardest thing for some Albertan's to accept is that the whole world doesn't want to trade them places lol. Pretty funny when I'm buying bulls at Bow Slope and they gavel them down as 'Another Bul;l to the Have-Not Province' fun stuff. Reply With Quote
Jun 4, 2006 | 20:53 39 If any business made the 'have not province comment' cswilson I can assure you they do not speak for the average Albertan. I, for one, envy residents of Sask. for the clean air, the neat tidy cities, landscape that isn't chewed up with lease roads etc. We do have resource riches here in Alberta but make no mistake it is not never never land !!
With respect to grants to municipalities, the Municipal Assistance Grant was done away with when the Klein government came in power. It provided assistance for roads, streets, etc., and was based, if I am not mistaken on population of municipalities both rural and urban.

There are new grants, I agree, but many of them are geared to keeping infrastructure under the industries that locate in this province. If you travelled through my local town you would understand what I mean. The streets are full of potholes, and in fact the gravel road past my home is smoother and believe me its' no hell to drive.

There are municipalities in this province that have little or no resource revenue, they have a tough time keeping up with the essential services for their citizens.

The 4D cull cow program was supposed to be rigourously monitored, but as with anything where there is money at stake there are those that will try and abuse it. My neighbour ran a herd of 150 cows, and admitted to having 17 put down, now that is a real stretch as far as I am concerned. I can see 2-5% of a herd that kept the old girls one or two more years longer than they should have but over 10% going as 4D cows makes me a bit suspicious !!!

I did not apply through the CAIS program, too much red tape, did not take advantage of the 4D program. Reply With Quote
Jun 4, 2006 | 21:00 40 alberta news
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Sunday, Jun 04, 2006
Experts predict Calgary to become urban sprawl capital of Canada


CALGARY (CP) - With a geographical footprint the same size as New York City but only about 10 per cent of the population, it's no wonder some experts worry that the booming metropolis of Calgary may become the worst offender in Canada when it comes to urban sprawl.
Land - lots of it - has allowed the city to avoid the more controlled, efficient development some cities are forced into by their locale.

"Calgary will for the foreseeable future continue to grow out," says Karen Wilkie, a senior policy analyst with the Canada West Foundation. "The issue really is growing outward with no limits."

"When you think about the rate of Calgary's growth, the only limit is the city's inability to continue to annex more land."




The rapid expansion, mostly southward, has created a number of far-flung communities, increased reliance on automobiles and gobbled up some prime agricultural land.

There are environmental concerns as well, with the brown haze of pollution from heavy traffic areas sometimes visible 40 kilometres away.

"We're creating a car culture and longer commute times back and forth, and car trips create air quality issues," said Wilkie.




"The city of Calgary is starting to have air quality days that are similar to the city of Toronto, and that certainly takes away that small Prairie town and puts Calgary in a more realistic modern day sense," she said.

Brian Pincott of the Sierra Club in Calgary is also concerned about the apparently limitless sprawl.

"Right now we're probably equivalent to some of the worst cities in Canada, but because of our booming economy we really have the potential to become way worse," he warns.

"There's only one city in Canada that is at our standard, and that is North York outside of Toronto. If you look at the sprawling burbs of Toronto, that is essentially what we are doing."


It's now a full 25 kilometres from the city centre to the new southern outskirts of Calgary. Rolling green hills are dotted with the large rural spreads known as acreages, palatial homes and private riding arenas. Complaints abound about insufficient transit, roads and schools.

"We're still building all this sprawling crap, so the crunch is happening right now where we are going to tip over and become way worse than any other Canadian city," Pincott said.

But Calgary's mayor takes exception to the criticism.

"We don't have sprawl today," says Dave Bronconnier. "What you're seeing is sprawl that's occurred primarily from rapid growth in the 1960s, '70s and '80s."

"The public policies are working. They're reversing a trend and seeing it in the form of more multi-family homes, significantly higher densities, more mixed-use projects and more high-rise towers."

Another characteristic of urban sprawl - defined as the expansive, rapid, and sometimes reckless growth of a greater metropolitan area - is new neighbourhoods of single-family residences with low population density.

But Bronconnier points to the redevelopment of some sectors in the inner city as a sign that Calgary's policies are working and he scoffs at suggestions there's no end in sight to the city's expansion plans.

"Those are people living in a dream world - the same people that came out with a stat that said we'd go from here to Kananaskis (90 kilometres to the west) based on their own formulas."

Bronconnier also notes that his city has one of the highest percentages of urban park space in Canada.

Pincott concedes Calgary has made some positive moves in its redevelopment, but he's still looking for a strategy to deal with future expansion.

"It doesn't appear that there's any end in sight and the city is certainly in conversation in annexing more land," he said.

"As long as the city views annexation as the solution, we are just going to continue doing exactly the same thing." Reply With Quote
Jun 5, 2006 | 00:26 41 All I know is we see big trucks with Alberta plates over here flashing government money and bidding things up-but like I said no big deal-everything that goes up-comes down too. Reply With Quote
Jun 5, 2006 | 00:28 42 All I know is we see big trucks with Alberta plates over here flashing government money and bidding things up-but like I said no big deal-everything that goes up-comes down too. Reply With Quote
Jun 5, 2006 | 05:58 43 And cswilson, all I know is that I see numerous Sask. lic. plates in my home town, and up and down the highway, which tells me that they are here working in AB.

My son, the drilling consultant, is working is back working in Eastern AB., his entire rig crew for the first 12 wells is from Sask., as was his crews for the entire year in 2005.

Things have a way of evening out cswilson. If some folks from Sask. can make a good living in Alberta, then this resource boom cannot be all bad for your province.

If there weren't bidders from Alberta at farm sales in Sask. do you think the prices would be higher or lower for the seller ? A lot of people from AB. have purchased land in Sask., but obviously they found a willing seller or they could not have bought the land in the first place.

I am sure that eventually the oil boom will slow down, but right now it doesn't look like it will happen for a good long time, with the Fort Mac. boom plus the rest of the province going nuts. Reply With Quote
Jun 5, 2006 | 06:05 44 Sunday, Jun 04, 2006
Alberta schools losers in booming province's infrastructure building bonanza


CALGARY (CP) - Construction cranes dot the skyscape and road crews are working overtime to pave the way to prosperity, but schools in booming Alberta are showing the neglect reminiscent of an absent landlord.
Leaky roofs, water-blistered walls and rotted-out windows are all part of the $1-billion backlog of school repairs that built up while the energy-rich province wiped out its debt.

Half of those problems are in Alberta's largest city, which has seen an influx of more than 100,000 people in the last decade. But the struggles also exist in Edmonton and Fort McMurray.

The Calgary Board of Education has a $425-million maintenance deficit for public schools and the Catholic system has a $90-million list of deferred maintenance and modernization upgrades. Forty new neighbourhoods have no schools at all.




"Everything is done on a shoestring," said Gerry Burger-Martindale, president of the Calgary Association of Parent and School Councils.

"Things don't get fixed when they are little problems," said Burger-Martindale. "We all know as homeowners that you fix things when it's minor; close your eyes and it becomes major. These things don't go away, they don't become cheaper to fix. This isn't rocket science."

Almost two years after Premier Ralph Klein announced a $3-billion fund to upgrade the province's crumbling infrastructure, the lion's share of that money has gone to roads and hospitals.




The premier suggests school boards aren't properly managing their money, an accusation that angers Gordon Dirks, chairman of the Calgary public board.

"Up until now the provincial government has not had a plan," Dirks said after submitting an urgent plea for $311 million over three years, including $178 million for repairs and new schools next year alone.

"Behind closed doors, I think if you were able to pin some of those elected officials to the wall, they'd acknowledge it," said Dirks. "It's time for the plan."

Education Minister Gene Zwozdesky says help is on the way.

"What I'm planning to get to is a plan that will stabilize the amount of funding these boards need to deal with (those problems) in a proactive fashion," said the minister.

School boards had to submit their funding requests by Friday and Zwozdesky said a draft five- year plan to address school infrastructure will be completed by the end of June.


He acknowledges the massive deficit, but notes the province dramatically increased spending on school repairs and maintenance across Alberta to $81 million. He says many items on the school lists don't require immediate attention.

"Those are projects that need to be attended to over the next five to eight years," he said.

But some are much more dire. Seventy schools in Calgary have roof problems and one elementary that was evacuated in March will be lucky if repairs are done by Christmas.

Earlier this month, a wing of historic Western Canada High was shut down after a stream of water from a porous roof cascaded past an electrical panel. The leaks were identified in a 2001 report to the province, but patches were repeatedly delayed while officials waited for funding for a more permanent renovation.

The 103-year-old school, whose alumni include former premier Peter Lougheed and Lt.-Gov. Norman Kwong, now requires $32 million in upgrades.

Drake Hammill, president of the caretakers' union for Calgary public schools, estimates it would take up to 18 months to repair the shortfalls if there were money and manpower available.

He also notes that the $1.4 billion the Klein government spent in January sending $400 prosperity cheques to every man, woman and child in the province would have been enough to fix old schools and build new ones.

Roger Gibbins of the Canada West Foundation says it's easy for the public to forget about schools if they don't have children in classrooms.

"I paid far more attention when my kids were in that neighbourhood school," said Gibbins, executive director of the Calgary-based think-tank.

"Now I see the school as a speed zone that I have to pay attention to. I pay no attention to whether the school is falling in."

Gibbins says it's unfair to blame the boards - who no longer collect their own taxes - for not looking after school repairs. He also says the extent of the disrepair in Canada's wealthiest province would likely shock those elsewhere.

Klein has long said that the people pouring into Alberta don't bring their roads, doctors or schools. But Liberal infrastructure critic Harry Chase says they did bring something else.

"They brought their income tax, they brought their property tax, they brought their wallets to purchase the cars and all the other bits and pieces," said Chase.

"So when (Klein) says they are just becoming dependents of the state of Alberta, that's totally erroneous." Reply With Quote
Jun 5, 2006 | 09:49 45 Hell of a big differance between 'working' and taking a government treat out of the mailbox sunshine-just admit the truth that Ralphie boy shares the wealth and be done with it. Like I said I could care less having to compete on a level field with any Alberta rancher-have a bit of trouble when their government helps out. Reply With Quote
Jun 5, 2006 | 10:07 46 Hello Grassfarmer. I am not trying to rain on your parade but if the value is limited to $100 then how do you stop someone from putting in an order for 1000000 units and blocking anyone else from getting it?
Before the quota exchanges were set up in dairy, a comittee decided who got dairy quota. Friends and families of comittee members always seemed to get quota increases while everyone else was SOL.
I just think a quota in the beef industry is more needless bureacracy strangling an industry.
In the dairy industry while imports continue to increase, the canadian plants can't get enough milk. Canadian dairy farmers are banned from exporting as well. The dfc makes sure of that.
Go figure. Reply With Quote
Jun 5, 2006 | 10:25 47 cswilson, please tell me what checks that Ralph puts in the mailbox ? The prosperity check for $400 didn't buy much, in fact many Albertans thought it was foolish, the money could have been spent for many things that were necessary etc.

During the drought I paid $80 dollars for hay, and sold good cows to be able to feed the rest of my herd. We got a little acreage payment from the province but it benefitted the larger land holders whether or not they even owned a cow !!!

If the province is getting vast amounts of oil royalty revenue the people of Alberta deserve their fair share, but in my view it should come in the way of taking Education tax off property, repairing highways, buildling much needed facilities for our seniors etc.

At the recent Premier's meeting your Premier seemed as worried as Klein about the possiblity of resource revenue being on the table for equalization payments so obviously Sask. is starting to get a good chunk of revenue too. Better be careful about pointing fingers at Alberta farmers and ranchers, what are you going to do if your own government sends a few dollars your way ?

Then you can out bid your Alberta counterpart on land, hay etc. !! Reply With Quote
kpb
Jun 5, 2006 | 15:13 48 spud, as I said at the beginning of this thread, the $100 per head was just a number I picked out of thin air as a buy-in by producers who wanted to participate. It would go towards the building of packing plants, under my plan, that would be owned by the producers.

This "quota" would be based on two factors, as I have already said, one being the domestic beef demand and the other the number of producers who wanted to meet that demand and put their money there. If more producers wanted to get involved then there was demand for (roughly 50% of current production) the number would be pro-rated back. These quota numbers could not be more than the historic number of cows each producer ran so nobody could apply for as you say 100,000 units. In addition, the national marketing members would be considered shareholders under my scheme and presumably there would be interntal limits on the number of "shares" (quota) each member could own.

It is truly fascinating to me to see the reaction to this plan. Some people seem to think that producers owning their own packing plants is the same as Tyson owning them. That, frankly, is bizarre to me. If producers own the means of production through to the retailer (and maybe eventually beyond) can you not see that that is better than what we have now?

cs wilson suggested that small, boutique type meat stores be opened. That's a fine idea but it isn't happening is it? Nobody is stepping forward to do it and, in fact, we couldnt get producers to ante up during the BSE debacle could we?

Some guys are afraid of government involvement. But how else are we going to regain control of our industry? Our so-called representative groups do not see a problem and do not truly represent us. The packers are huge, with big pockets--pockets that could only be matched by a combination of producer and government money. And, truly, if we were going to do something about it on our own (see cswilson's point) it would have already happened.

This plan is sure not perfect and it needs some hammering out. But it might be a start if we can at least agree that there is a problem and this might go a ways to solving it.

And for the third and very last time in this thread---it is voluntary. If you don't like government involvement, if you love things the way they are, if you're a free enterpriser to the day you die and think that foreign packers owning 80% of our slaughter capacity is the ulitmate in free enterprise and just fine, then please do not join. You will still have the current feedlots and packers to sell to and the foreign market to reach. But don't condemn your fellow producers for wanting to get together with their peers to fight the multi's and make a regular, decent profit. After all that is also free enterprise (and don't tell me that there is any industry in Canada that does not get government support cuz it just ain't so).

kpb Reply With Quote
Jun 6, 2006 | 21:24 49 kpb, I agree with your analysis of this discussion - I conclude we must be insane. The definition of insanity afterall is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. In the case of Canadian beef producers we continue to do the same thing over and over again - nothing to help ourselves whilst discussing continually what the problems are and how badly we are all suffering. I have no idea how to unite producers into any type of organised thought or action plan - those who are exploiting beef producers to make their living must be laughing all the way to the bank. Reply With Quote
joedales's Avatar Dec 31, 2006 | 16:46 50 A New Year and a Fresh Start.....

Dec 31, 2006 - Wow the year flew by.

I always take a few minutes to reflect on the past year and think about what I would like to accomplish in the new year...

I also have lots to work on but I also feel fortunate with my blessings...

Everyone have a great New Year 2007. Reply With Quote