Beingessner: Farm advocate, writer Paul Beingessner, 55

Beingessner: Farm advocate, writer Paul Beingessner, 55

Postby Oscar » Mon Jun 29, 2009 3:37 pm

Farm advocate, writer Paul Beingessner, 55 ... e=06262009

Dave Bedard 6/26/2009 4:13:00 PM

Paul Beingessner, a well-known writer and advocate on Prairie farming issues, died Thursday afternoon in an apparent machinery entanglement on his southern Saskatchewan farm.

Beingessner, 55, had been making repairs to a haybine on his farm at Truax, about 80 km southwest of Regina, and was pulled into the equipment and died, RCMP at Milestone, Sask. said Friday.

Milestone and Avonlea RCMP, who responded along with an ambulance from nearby Pangman, said they would continue their investigation. An autopsy is to be done in Regina to determine the specific cause of death, RCMP said.

A message from Beingessner's wife Faye and five children Friday said funeral arrangements were pending and a date had not yet been set.

Beingessner, who had a degree in psychology from the University of Regina, was a social worker before returning to farming, growing crops on about 2,000 acres and also raising cattle.

In 1991, he became general manager of Southern Rails Co-operative, a shortline that's owned by about 160 farmer members and connects Truax and other communities to both CN and CPR track.

He also became a well-known columnist, whose work appeared in community newspapers across the three Prairie provinces and regularly in the Manitoba Co-operator and Grainews.

"Paul's unique and thoughtful perspective on agricultural issues will be sorely missed," Co-operator editor Laura Rance said Friday. "His was a voice that resonated with many farmers across the Prairies."

"Paul had the unique ability to look at events around the world and in the farming industry and then reveal his thoughts with courage and conviction in both spoken and written word," retired Grainews editor Andy Sirski said Friday.

"While he was too 'left' for some, Paul attracted readers from a wide range of philosophies and background. Paul will be missed."

National Farmers Union president Stewart Wells, in a statement Friday, said Beingessner's writings "cut through the issues and got to the heart of the matter, they spoke directly to the families who work to make a living from the land, and his words spoke directly to decision-makers.

"And Paul's words were matched and amplified by his actions. He was a builder, a contributor, a person who devoted much of his life to making rural Canada a better place," said Wells, who farms at Swift Current, Sask. "Paul was genuine, humble, principled, and first to lend a hand to build alternatives and solutions."

In late 1996, Beingessner left Southern Rails for a new post with the province's highways and transportation department, in its shortline advisory unit. In 1999, he put out his shingle as a private consultant on grain transportation and ag policy.

A vocal supporter of the Canadian Wheat Board's single marketing desk for Prairie wheat and barley, Beingessner also ran for election to the CWB's board of directors, losing in 2008 on the third count of preferential ballots to pro-single-desk incumbent Rod Flaman in south-central Saskatchewan's District 8.

"With today's volatile commodity markets, the CWB is more important than ever," Beingessner wrote at the time. "This is not the time to be throwing farmers' futures to the whims of commodity speculators."


Beingessner's Last Column

First World Economic Policies Increase Hunger - Column # 725 - 22/06/09

The World Food Program, an agency of the United Nations, announced last week that the number of hungry people in the world rose this year to over one billion. It is a startling number. It says that, though the world continues to grow richer in many senses and for many people, it is growing poorer at supplying more of its citizens with food. This is not the way it was supposed to be, not the way it was from 1990 to 2005. In that time period, poverty (extreme poverty) in developing countries fell steadily. Around 2005, this reversed, and poverty, and with it hunger, began to rise again. This has continued unabated.

The large increase in hunger in the first half of 2009 has been blamed by the World Food Program on continuing high food prices, but it have been much longer in the making than the commodity boom that arose from the banking crisis in the U.S. last year. Like the market crash and sub-prime mortgage mess, hunger in poor countries has been caused in many cases by actions taken in rich ones.

Until recently, international agencies like the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the U.S. Treasury Department promoted policies that came to be known as the Washington Consensus. These policies became requirements for countries that wanted loans from the World Bank and IMF. The American government and governments in Europe also demanded that countries wanting to receive aid follow the prescriptions of the Washington Consensus. Key among these were trade liberalization, privatization of state enterprises and deregulation.

One of the results of the Washington Consensus was that spending on agriculture by poor countries declined. This was often demanded as a condition for aid and loans. Meanwhile, the amount of money given by rich countries for the development of agriculture in poor countries also declined. While imposing these restrictions on underdeveloped nations, the U.S. and the European Union continued to provide ample subsidies to their own agriculture sectors. It was fully expected that poor countries would be able to buy their food needs on international markets while switching their economies over to export oriented agriculture and industries. They would export flowers to us and we would export food to them.

The result was that the food producing capacity of many poor countries declined. Agricultural research and infrastructure were neglected and subsistence farmers were pushed aside for oilseed plantations and other export crops.

In 2007/2008, food prices began to rise as a long period of declining food stocks world-wide suddenly got noticed. On top of that, the economic collapse in many developed countries reduced markets for the production of the poor. They could no longer afford to eat.

Some world governments continue to prescribe more of the same as the cure for hunger and poverty - more trade, more deregulation and more privatization. But here is the odd thing. Two of the largest and poorest countries in the world have reduced poverty to a greater extent than any, and they did it while violating most of the principles of the Washington Consensus. I'm talking, of course, about India and China. Both countries resisted privatization of government services, continued to protect their own economies with tariffs and did not make deregulation the be-all-and-end-all of political policy.

So what's to be done? We have rapidly increasing hunger at a time when rich countries are preoccupied with their own economic troubles, like whether we'll be able to keep all the Hummers on the road. With troubles like that, how will they have time to think about the hungry in far-off lands?

Various international agencies have proposed some solutions. These include

* Increasing aid to agriculture in poor countries and targeting it at appropriate production that will meet the needs of rural and urban poor.

* Building food reserves, like India and China did, that can be released at times when supply is low and prices high. This will prevent price volatility.

* Tighten regulations on stock exchanges that trade in commodities to prevent excessive speculation.

* Negotiate trade agreements that allow poor countries to protect their economies in times of crisis and exploitation.

* Control the market power of massive corporations that can cause markets to swing on their whim.

Of course these measures run counter to the laissez-faire economic policies promoted by the world's major powers. But in the current economic crisis, they are precisely what is needed. Having caused the problem to a great extent with the failed policies of the Washington Consensus, rich nations bear some responsibility toward the poor.

In the short term we need to alleviate the hunger that is pressing down on one billion people. Nor is the cost significant compared to what we are currently showering on our own economies. Less than one percent of the global stimulus package would fund the current deficit in the World Food Program.

We should not underestimate the value of living in a world where hunger is eliminated. As someone pointed out, any country is only four missed meals away from anarchy. And anarchy that strikes in one country often has ramifications for another half a world away.

© Paul Beingessner (306) 868-4734
Site Admin
Posts: 8372
Joined: Wed May 03, 2006 3:23 pm

The Paul Beingessner Excellence in Writing Award

Postby Oscar » Wed Sep 30, 2009 8:47 pm

The Paul Beingessner Excellence in Writing Award

From: Stewart Wells

Sent: Wednesday, September 30, 2009 8:33 PM

Subject: The Paul Beingessner Excellence in Writing Award--an invitation to help launch

Dear friend/reader/colleague of Paul Beingessner,

The National Farmers Union has received permission from Faye and the Beingessner Family to initiate “The Paul Beingessner Excellence in Writing Award”. This award would be administered by the National Farmers Union.

We envision this to be an annual cash award with the possibility of two or perhaps three categories: 1. high school/4H, 2. University student, 3. working journalist.

Of course, to be successful we need to raise some core funding. At this point I am not asking for a cheque to be written, but rather a commitment that you would write a cheque in the amount of $500 to “The Paul Beingessner Excellence in Writing Award”.

A decision to move forward will be made by the National Farmers Union depending on the initial commitments received.

Speaking personally for a moment, I will be committing $500 in order to help this project get off the ground. As well as keeping Paul’s name and writing current, the award would encourage young people to submit letters and essays commenting on all aspects of family farming and farm politics. We will not be able to replace Paul’s weekly contributions, but hopefully we can help others discover Paul’s writing while developing their own skills.

Please respond directly to me, Stewart Wells, by email, or phone/fax at 306-773-6852, and please forward this request to all of your networks. I apologize in advance for the inevitable cross-postings that you might receive.


Stewart Wells, President
National Farmers Union
Site Admin
Posts: 8372
Joined: Wed May 03, 2006 3:23 pm

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