Cor­po­ra­tions not stew­ards of the land

Journal Pioneer - - EDITORIAL -

Prince Ed­ward Is­land has men and women that were born to farm. They know healthy soil when they hold it in the palm of their hand or stir it be­neath their feet. They know it is filled with nu­tri­ents and min­er­als and will re­tain mois­ture to pro­duce an abun­dant crop yield. True farm­ers know that farm­land and wa­ter are lim­ited re­sources to be used with care and re­spect and that there are only so many hours in a sea­son in which to plant, nur­ture and har­vest a crop be­fore Mother Na­ture closes the door. They are proud to be true stew­ards of the land.

In his brief ap­pear­ance on Nov. 1, be­fore the Prince Ed­ward Is­land Com­mu­ni­ties, Land and En­vi­ron­ment Com­mit­tee, sup­pos­edly ex­am­in­ing cor­po­rate land hold­ings in the prov­ince, Robert Irv­ing, the in­dus­trial potato pro­ces­sor/ grower, in his de­mands, made it clear he is not a stew­ard of the land or wa­ter re­sources. His com­mand for land lim­its to be changed so potato farm­ers can have twice as much land along with un­lim­ited ac­cess to wa­ter to pay for their in­vest­ment in the in­dus­try, is clearly about cor­po­rate prof­its and con­trol, not the wel­fare of Is­land potato farm­ers or the land of which they are stew­ards.

The fact is, Is­land potato farm­ers know that twice as much land will not make life more prof­itable for them. They know if they were paid a fair re­turn on their crop, twice as much land is not needed to pay for their in­vest­ment in the in­dus­try. I be­lieve they also know that to speak pub­licly would be fi­nan­cial sui­cide as the pro­cess­ing/farm­ing cor­po­ra­tion that de­ter­mines their con­tracts is be­ing sup­ported by the Is­land gov­ern­ment, through vi­o­la­tion of the Lands Pro­tec­tion Act, will even­tu­ally drive in­de­pen­dent farm­ers to ex­tinc­tion. As more Is­lan­ders be­come aware that farm­ers are be­ing used as pawns to sup­port the cor­po­rate agenda, the com­pany’s lan­guage has sud­denly changed. Cavendish Farms is now con­cerned about cli­mate change. The de­mand for wa­ter has be­come the de­sire to part­ner in test­ing, mon­i­tor­ing and re­search­ing the im­pact of three deep wa­ter wells. This will en­able Cavendish Farms to fur­ther ex­ploit the pub­lic re­source of wa­ter to ir­ri­gate their crops un­der a dif­fer­ent pre­text.

If Cavendish Farms is that con­cerned about cli­mate change per­haps it should start grow­ing and pro­cess­ing va­ri­eties that will flour­ish with well cared for land un­der dry con­di­tions, in­stead of grow­ing va­ri­eties re­quir­ing high vol­umes of wa­ter and longer sea­sons to cre­ate long french fries. Suc­ces­sive Is­land gov­ern­ments have buck­led un­der the pol­i­tics of fear played by cor­po­ra­tions. The line is al­ways the same — give us what we want, or we will leave, and take jobs with us. Who is fi­nally go­ing to have the guts to say, “You are in­vited to do busi­ness in our prov­ince un­der land and wa­ter reg­u­la­tions that serve the greater good of both our hu­man and nat­u­ral re­sources.” I would haz­ard the guess that Cavendish Farms will still be here and still mak­ing a very prof­itable re­turn. If not, an­other com­pany no doubt will be.

If Is­land gov­ern­ments con­tinue along the path they have been fol­low­ing, we will no longer have the nat­u­ral re­sources on Prince Ed­ward Is­land to be Canada’s “Food Is­land.” Shel­ley Glen,


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