Presentation on Organic Farming - Aug. 01, 2006

Presentation on Organic Farming - Aug. 01, 2006

Postby Oscar » Thu Aug 10, 2006 4:42 pm


by Elmer Laird, President
Back to the Farm Research Foundation Inc.
Box 69, Davidson, SK S0G 1A0
Telephone: (306) 567-4260 ... founda.htm

August 1, 2006

The Back To The Farm Research Foundation was sponsored by Local 614 of the National Farmers Union and was incorporated as a non-profit Foundation under the Societies Act of the Province of Saskatchewan on November 27, 1973. The NFU has never asked us to date for a policy report; however, this is an important policy recommendation so we are including the NFU.

Farm Policies & Objectives for Saskatchewan’s 2nd Century, Homestead #2 – Broad Objectives

1. Psychological, Medical and Practical Reasons to Support Homestead #2

Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, (between 460 and 380 B.C.) said, “Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food.” We have been trying for several years to convince Premier Calvert and the government that they should be serving certified organic food in Saskatchewan hospitals, nursing homes, school lunch programs, food bank recipients, pregnant women and new mothers, colleges of agriculture, medicine, mental patients, prisoners and the 12.8% of Canadians who are chemically sensitive.

2. Work with Nature

Mother Nature is a powerful old girl, and we need her on our side. We need both scientific laboratories and eyeball science to help understand her policies and programs.

3. Develop our Space

Saskatchewan has 43% of the cultivated land in Canada and less than a million people. We need to develop our space so people, livestock, poultry and wildlife have the healthiest, environmentally friendly and comfortable lifestyle it is possible to have.

4. Family Farm

The family farm must be recognized as the basic unit of food production in Canada. The management and work will be done by the farm family. It should be a mixed grain and livestock enterprise for nutritional support of soil and livestock. Until about 15 years ago, all political parties in federal and provincial elections supported the family farm as the basic unit of food production in Canada. I haven’t heard any political support in recent elections. There doesn’t seem to be any concern where our food comes from.

The main objectives of the family farm are:
1. We must produce the most nutritious, unpolluted food possible for humans, livestock and poultry and wildlife. This means certified organic or better.
2. We must maintain maximum nutrition in the food from the farmer’s field to the consumer’s table.


We are presenting you both with an enlarged graph of a kernel of wheat. It lists the nutrients in the wheat. The only way the nutrients can be preserved in processing wheat is by the method of stone grinding. Stone grinding is a process of grinding grain. If the process works properly, the flour remains cool enough to keep the Vitamin E in the wheat germ from growing rancid.

In the 1930s when I grew up, towns like Swift Current, Outlook, Humboldt and many others had flour mills that produced unbleached flour. They removed the wheat germ which they called “shorts” and the wheat bran while milling. The shorts was the Vitamin E. The bran and shorts were shipped home in separate bags which mother mixed in her various recipes. Dad took about 30 bushels of wheat to the Swift Current flour mill for milling what he called grist. He brought home our years supply of flour which was seven 100 pound bags of unbleached flour, 100 pounds of brand and 100 pounds of shorts. The rest of the wheat he gave to the flour mill to pay the milling charges. He brought home practically all the nutrition he took to the mill.

Most people, including farmers, didn’t realize the difference in nutrition between unbleached and pure white flour. Today’s commercial white flour (except for stone ground flour) takes all the nutrition out of the flour and leaves starch only. The Health Protection Branch demands that five nutrients be added to today’s white flour. It then has about the equivalent nutrition of a piece of cardboard.

Demonstration #1 - Milling stone ground certified organic whole wheat flour and baking pancakes

We are going to mill some certified organic stone ground whole wheat flour and add organic ingredients (except baking powder), and we will then bake pancakes. The purpose of our demonstration is to show the short period of time it takes to get all the nutrients in the flour to our plates.

We must shorten the time from when processing starts to when the food arrives on the consumer’s table. We must also eliminate preservatives as much as possible. The question is – how can you expect your stomach to get the nutrition out of food if it is preserved to last forever?

Demonstration #2 – Unpasteurized Goats Milk

We won’t publicize the source because cow and goat whole milk is illegal to sell in Saskatchewan. In fact it has about the same status legally as homebrew whiskey. There isn’t any Saskatchewan produced whole milk available for sale in Saskatchewan.

Pasteurized organic whole milk is imported from British Columbia and sold in organic food stores in our cities. Pasteurization destroys the calcium in the milk which is one of the main reasons for drinking it.

In the world I grew up in 75 years ago all bread was made from organic unbleached flour, whole milk and fresh eggs were the foundation of our diets. We must restore the nutritional quality of our diets if we are going to save our national Medicare program which is in a crisis. My information may be outdated, but I have always heard that unpasterurized cows’ milk was safe to drink if the cows passed the TB and bangs testing. When I lived in Vancouver in 1941, (organic) whole milk was delivered door to door in glass bottles in horse drawn milk wagons to all homes in the city. However, it wasn’t called “organic” at that time.

We Must Urge Federal Government to Subsidize All Canadian Farmers to Move to Organic Production

The Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development in the year 2000 produced an all party committee report. It was called “Pesticides, Making the Right Choices for the Protection of Health and the Environment.” It was a 16 member committee of the House of Commons chaired by Charles Caccia (Liberal), Davenport, Ontario. On page 184 of the 209 page report it recommended:

Tax Incentives for Organic Agriculture

The Committee recommends that the government develop an organic agriculture policy for the transition from pesticide-dependent farming to organic farming. This policy should include tax incentives, an interim support program during the transition period, technical support for farmers, the development of post-secondary organic farming programs and enhanced funding for research and development (R&D) in organic agriculture.

Food Grading System

The Committee recommends that the government work with industry to quickly put in place a certification organization for the Canadian National Organic Agriculture Standard.

The committee recommends that the food labeling system be improved to provide consumers with better information on the intrinsic nutritional qualities of food products.

Organic Agriculture Research

The Committee recommends that the government grant appropriate financial resources for research, teaching and information distribution in the organic agriculture sector.

The Committee recommends that the government create research chairs in organic agriculture.

The Committee recommends that, within six months of the tabling of the government response to the present report, a special committee composed of members of the Standing Committees on Environment and Sustainable Development, Agriculture and Agri-Food, and Foreign Affairs and International Trade, be formed to conduct an in-depth study on organic agriculture in the domestic and the international context and to make recommendations to the government.


Other Action Demanded of Federal Government

1. Develop mandatory organic certification standards that will meet all international requirements that will permit all certified organic food produced by Saskatchewan organic producers to be marketed anywhere in the world.
2. License the use of nosema locustae which is a biological grasshopper control.
3. Establish a testing laboratory for testing organic fertilizers for impurities.

Demands on Federal Government

1. Canada must rescind the Plant Breeders Rights Act for farmers’ protection.
2. Canada must ban terminator seeds and genetically modified seeds to protect consumers’ nutrition rights.
3. Canada must ban growth hormones and antibiotics in livestock and poultry production.
4. Canada must ban the use of carbon monoxide in beef preservation.
5. Canada must protect farmers’ rights to save their own seed.
6. Canada must ban hog factory pork production.

Request Support of Both Federal & Provincial Government for Soil Conservation

1. To promote good soil and water conservation practices.
2. To measure rhizobial action and nitrogen fixation of legumes.
3. To measure soil bacteria. 4. To promote the use of biological controls for weeds and pests.
5. To demonstrate and promote composting of poultry, animal and human waste for fertilizer.
6. To keep accurate research records and measure soil nutrients and food nutrition in human, animal and poultry feed (grains, oilseeds, legumes and weeds).
7. To introduce organic fertilizers to organic farming.
8. To do research and demonstration of intercropping.
9. To publicize all results from all sources of research done on organic farms.

Rural Saskatchewan Requires Transportation Changes Now

The move from small country elevators and railway shipping of grains, oilseeds and legumes to large inland terminals and semi-trailer trucks and B-trains has been a complete disaster for the provincial highways and grid roads. Saskatchewan has more provincial highways and grid roads than any other province. Reports indicate that they are in a disastrous condition. If we have another wet spring like 2006, we might as well harness up some oxen and hitch them to ox carts to move our farm products to market. I don’t know who made the decision to change our transportation system to large inland terminals and B-trains, but we must change it back to railways and community loading coops or grain elevators as soon as possible.

Safe, Unpolluted Water is Fundamental to Good Health, Water Research Requirements as Water Quality is a Provincial Responsibility

1. To check all water for pesticides, pollutants, etc. Dr. Allan Cessna of the National Hydrology Water Institute reports that all surface water and one third of deep wells in Saskatchewan are polluted with herbicides. Programs must be started immediately to find safe, unpolluted water for all Saskatchewan citizens to share.
2. To check water tables, train well witchers.
3. Davidson Pivot Irrigation System – Davidson has used all their waste water for irrigation for 30 years. They were the second community in the province to start irrigating from their lagoon. There are 29 lagoon irrigation systems in the province at last count. There could be almost 500 more. I am proud to belong to a community that doesn’t dump their waste water into someone else’s drinking water.

Manually Remove Algae from Water Canals

The pesticide, Magnacide “H”, with its active ingredient, Acrolien, is used by the Saskatchewan government in the canal between Broderick and Blackstrap to eliminate the algae during the irrigation season. The canal flows into Blackstrap Lake and further on to other water supplies. Back in 1960 the Alberta irrigation program had ditch riders who manually removed the algae or other obstructions in their irrigation canals. It is time our government quit polluting our water supplies with pesticides and used manual ways to clean algae out of water canals. (See back page for copies of Saskatchewan government’s ads about the use of the pesticide, Magnacide “H”)

Program to Find Safe Drinking Water

The provincial government should establish a program to find safe sources of drinking water all over the province for Saskatchewan’s citizens to share.

No Creditability in Pesticide Testing

On November 3 & 4, 1977, I attended a seminar held at Eco-Valley Centre, Fort Qu’Appelle, Sask. It was sponsored by the Canadian Plains Research Centre, University of Regina. It was called, “Chemicals and Agriculture: Problems and Alternatives.” Dr. W.P. McKinley, Head of the Federal Health Inspection Branch, was one of the speakers. In the question period after his speech I asked Dr. McKinley, “Who was doing research on the safety (or hazards) of the combination of pesticides that were being used on people, domestic animals and wildlife”. He said, “No one is.” In fact he went on to say that very question had been discussed by the World Health Organization prior to that time, and they had decided there was no way it could be done.

Well, gentlemen, we are presenting you with an 18 page copy of an email on the same topic that says the same thing. It is from “Rachel’s Democracy & Health News #839, January 26, 2006.” The Wall Street Journal published it last summer in a four part series. The article says, “The wheels came off the U.S. chemical regulatory system in a very public way in 2005 – that it is scientifically bankrupt because it is based on assumptions that are simply wrong.” It goes on to say there has never been a credible way to test the effects of the combinations of chemicals and never will be. Both federal and provincial governments had representatives at the Fort Qu’Appelle conference and 29 years later we still accept and pay high prices to get food and water tested for pesticide residues, and are prepared to accept the test as reliable information.

The Canadian Grain Commission Should Request the RCMP Train Dogs to Check Organic Overseas Grain Shipments for Pesticide Residues

The chairman of the CGC reports that no one checks containers of organic grain going anywhere for pesticide residues. She says it would cost $10,000 a test to do a complete testing and no one can afford that test. Many years ago I met with the dog trainer of the RCMP headquarters in Regina. He assured me that dogs could be trained to check food products for chemical residues. He said that at that time it would cost $2500 to train a dog to do this. I am quite sure, and I have talked to Mr. Nicoliaf, head of Pesticide Testing Laboratory, Canadian Grain Commission in Winnipeg, that using dogs would be the most effective and inexpensive method of testing all grains for pesticide residues. Let’s give it a try!

Life In The Soil

Dr. Roy Cullimore, microbiologist, head of Regina Water Research Laboratory (and frequent visitor to the Titanic), has developed a simple, inexpensive process of finding out if there is bacteria in the soil. He buries an exposed, developed picture slide in the field for three days. When it is put through the slide projector, if there are any bacteria in the soil, it will show colorful trails where the bacteria have chewed on the slide. We tried it here last year, but we are having trouble with our projector. All the pesticides and anhydrous ammonia farmers have been using on our soil the last 50 years has no doubt had a devastating effect on soil bacteria and fertility. As we move out of the pesticide era, we are going to need effective soil rebuilding programs.

Provincial Agricultural Policies Should Support the Following:

1. To demonstrate humane, open range, healthy methods of livestock and poultry production.
2. To assist people to find sources of healthy, nutritious, certified organic food.
3. To promote self-sufficient farms, communities, provinces and nations.
4. To find ways to get farmers back on the land.
5. To promote co-operation between farm and urban residents in food marketing.
6. To promote and develop farm training programs for young people.
7. To meet or exceed the minimum standards of food production of the Canadian Organic Certification Co-operative Ltd., the Canadian Organic Advisory Board and the International Standards Organization.
8. To promote energy efficiency using methods such as wind power, solar heat, straw bale housing, etc.
9. To provide an opportunity for food bank production.
10. To introduce nosema locustae, a biological control for grasshoppers.
11. All cereal grains, oilseeds and legumes must be cleaned to export standards before they leave the community. Screenings should be used for poultry, hog, sheep and goat production.
12. Recognize the nutritional value of wild oats.
For years chemical farmers have treated wild oats as a weed and spent millions of dollars on herbicides to destroy them. The university said years ago that wild oats was the most nutritious oat that is grown in Saskatchewan. Today Manitoba agronomists report that wild oats have a complete immunity to herbicides.

When we were operating the Canadian Organic Producers Marketing Co-Operative Ltd. at Girvin (1985-1992), we sold a lot of oats to an Ontario organic buyer, Dave Reibling. We had good cleaning equipment, but we had trouble cleaning the wild oats out of the tame oats.

One day when Reibling visited our plant I said, “Dave, what are you doing with these oats?” He said, “We are hulling them and shipping them to Chicago and New York markets.” I then asked what does a wild oat look like when it is hulled and he said, “Just about the same as the tame oat.” I asked, “Why are we cleaning wild oats out of the tame oats?” He replied, “I don’t know so why don’t you leave them in the tame oats.” Well from then on we did and he paid full value for the wild oats in the tame oats.

Today all grain companies still identify wild oats as dockage and farmers grow them and give them to the elevator companies free of charge. In fact farmers also pay the shipping charges on the dockage to Vancouver or Thunder Bay. Our experience with Reibling happened in the late 1980s. It is time we recognized the value of wild oats. In fact to impress you, we will give both Mr. Borgerson & Mr. Pugh a bag of wild oat oatmeal so they can test it for themselves.

Research Design Hopefully Subsidized by the Government of Saskatchewan

1. To research and design a prefab root cellar for rural and urban residents and communities.
2. To encourage, promote and subsidize solar heated straw bale greenhouses for all communities.

NB #1 -The Craik Eco-Centre’s straw bale solar heated 6000 square foot building would make an excellent community green house.
NB #2 – The price of gas is rapidly increasing and the price of fresh vegetables and fruit we import from California and Florida in the wintertime will soar.
NB #3 – If we grow the food in our own solar heated straw bale greenhouses, we will be creating jobs in Saskatchewan rather than California.

3. In 1975 our Research Foundation sponsored a grasshopper harvesting competition. It received national publicity. John Appelt of Ebenezer, Sask., was the winner. However, he was unable to get someone to manufacture it in Canada. He moved to Bozeman, Montana, and worked the next winter with university engineers. They designed a 24 foot wide prototype. However, the chemical lobby was to strong and no one would manufacture it in the United States either. John Appelt presently lives at Lake Cowinchin, B.C., and when I was talking to him a couple months ago, he still has the plan and was willing to move back to Saskatchewan and help any manufacturer who is prepared to work on building a grasshopper harvester. Grasshoppers make good poultry food and are used for human food in Japan and east Africa.

Promoting Organic Orchards in Saskatchewan

One of our directors, Charles Moore, who grew up in Saskatchewan spent 10 years working in the fruit growing area of the Okanogan. He believes that many of the varieties of fruit they have there could be grown here – particularly in areas where there is a high water table. We have several farms in this district where the water table is only five feet below the surface of the ground. The Moore’s have seeded in the last couple of year’s 1400 apple and 40 cherry trees on their 50 acre farm northwest of Davidson. Charlie is working with Rick Sawatzky, University of Saskatchewan Horticulture Department on the fruit tree project.

Other Objectives

1. We need to have “on farm” training programs for young people.
2. We need programs everywhere to teach young people the challenge of growing food. Davidson has a program called “Roots and Shoots.”
3. The agricultural training programs should be restored in penal institutions like they were 50 years ago.
4. Support 4-H livestock and garden training programs.
5. The Canadian Wheat Board, working with our certification organization the Canadian Organic Certification Co-Operative Ltd., is sponsoring a project to “direct market” certified organic board grains. We have always supported the principle of direct marketing through the CWB and hope the program is a success. However, we have two questions:
· Certified organic producers have used the buy-back process for 30 years. Why has it taken so long to decide the change?
· CWB sales people have traveled the world looking for markets since its establishment in 1935. We know they are aware of markets for certified organic board grains. Why haven’t they told all CWB members where the organic markets are?
6. Harper Government Proposes Voluntary Wheat Board – A voluntary Canadian Wheat Board will not work without a floor price. When the Conservative government led by Prime Minister R.B. Bennett introduced the CWB in 1935, it also introduced a floor price on wheat. It was 52 ½ cents/bushel at Davidson. Open market prices at that time were as low as 19 cents/bushel. If they are determined to go ahead with a voluntary Wheat Board, they should establish a floor of $6.50-$7.00/bushel.
7. Proposed Adjustment to the Farm Credit Corporation of Canada – The Farm Credit Corporation should have a program similar to the one the Department of Veteran Affairs introduced to help World War II veterans get established farming after the war.

Major Changes in Organic Food Production on the Horizon

The international hamburger corporation, McDonalds, says that it will not permit antibiotics or growth hormones to be used in its hamburgers after 2006. McDonalds buys 1.4 billion pounds of meat a year globally. Coca Cola, Wal-Mart and Philip Morris all say they are going organic in a big way. We hope they are sincere expressions, and they live up to them. There is certainly room for improvement in both the Canadian and international food supply.

Canadians from Coast to Coast to Coast Have Toxic Chemicals in Their Tissues

A recent report by Environmental Defense, an Ottawa based environmental watchdog group, told CTV News last winter that “Canadians are walking around with a cocktail of harmful toxic chemicals in their bodies.” The report entitled Toxic Nation: A Report on Pollution in Canadians finds that no matter where Canadians live, how old they are or what they do for a living, they are contaminated with measurable levels of chemicals that cause cancer, disrupt hormones, affect reproduction, cause respiratory problems or impair neurological development. Unfortunately, children born today are exposed to toxic pollution from the time they are conceived and will be for as long as they live. The Toxic Nation report says that in the last 50 years, the global production of manmade chemicals has increased substantially with more than 80,000 new chemicals created. We must reduce toxic pollution of people, domestic animals and wildlife as much as we can.

End of World War 2 – Hopefully

Pesticides were developed for biological controls in World Wars I and II. They were never developed for agriculture. However, Vance Packard in his book Hidden Persuaders states that if you spend enough on advertising, you can sell anything. That is what happened after World War II. We grew enough organic food during World War II to win the war and after the challenge was over, we fell for the pesticide propaganda.

Today weeds have developed a high resistance to herbicides so transnational pesticide and drug corporations have had to start using GMOs to strengthen the plant farmers want to produce. With the strengthened plant the herbicides can be made stronger and that will kill the weeds in the field.

Before and during World War II farmers were using horse power and some very primitive machinery but still produced a bountiful amount of food even in the dry years of what is known as “the dirty thirties.” If they had had the high technological equipment that we have today, they would have never gone for pesticides.

If we continue to use GMOs to increase the resistance of plants to pesticides, there is little doubt that it won’t be long before we destroy the productivity of the soil. If we eliminate pesticides and clean up our environment, World War II will be over. Also, we will have increased the health of our citizens and saved our national Medicare program as well as thousands of lives.


Elmer Laird, President
On Behalf of our Board of Directors
Telephone: (306) 567-4260
Site Admin
Posts: 8698
Joined: Wed May 03, 2006 3:23 pm

Return to Elmer's Corner

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest