To the Editor,
Cavendish Farms president Robert Irving recently appeared before a provincial committee to promote the interests of his corporation seeking to allow more high capacity wells for agricultural irrigation, and thus improve his bottom line.
He asserted his power by telling MLAs that Cavendish was P.E.I.’s largest employer with an economic impact of over $1 billion and purchased more than half of the potatoes grown here.
He then stated that if the moratorium on deep-wells was not lifted, even though it is P.E.I.’s sole source of drinking water, Cavendish Farms possibly would have to downsize operations and investments in P.E.I. In layman’s terms he was stating his company was attempting to hold us hostage by using bullying tactics.
Gary Linkletter from the P.E.I. Potato Board estimates each well would cost around $200,000, but not every farmer could afford this cost. Some farmers farm several small tracts of land to survive. Does Irving expect a well on each tract of land or does he want only large farms to take over the smaller farms?
He reiterated that farmers who did not irrigate using deep wells may not get a contract with Cavendish. Now he has resorted to holding farmer’s hostage.
In years past potato crops flourished, what has happened?
Is less rain falling due to climate change? If so the water table will slowly disappear. Has the soil become so depleted because of not following good farming practices that the soil can no longer prevent moisture loss?
Perhaps Robert Irving and his company should be concentrating on promoting and encouraging good farming practices instead of lining his pockets at any cost by threatening the people and Province of P.E.I.
Once the soil is depleted to the point potatoes won’t grow and the water dries up, Irving and Cavendish Farms will leave.
If our committee of elected MLAs bows to his corporate demands, as I am sure some farmers now realize, they will be making a deal with the devil.
Gary A. O. MacKay