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In response to Andrea McKenna’s letter (Sustainable farming needs consistent water availability, Dec. 22). I respectfully state I am very grateful to the Island family farmers who work hard to produce our food. For many it is a way of life and passion passed on from generation to generation. However, I am not appreciative of this recent campaign by some individual farmers, and the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture, claiming farmers are being unfairly denied access to irrigation water for growing our food. You say food, but perhaps potatoes might have been a more truthful word. And still more transparent might have been potatoes for processing into french fries, which have a questionable food value.
Just how are farmers being denied water? It appears holding ponds (pumping 24-7) are miraculously appearing site after site, obviously with the blessing of the government. Water is drawn from Island rivers and ponds, and then there are those grandfathered deep-water wells. Thus, some farmers have ably found their ways around the moratorium on deep-water wells. So, what is it that the public is missing regarding farmers’ (and please don’t lump all farmers together) ask for water?
You write that there is a possibility of Island family farms (of which you claim 98 are family owned and operated) being lost due to increased demands. I ask the question, are those demands being put on family farms by large processing corporations filling a certain market such as french fries? You suggest if these family farms fall to the wayside, we need to fear corporate and foreign investors buying up Island land. I am sure you are well aware it is already happening while our government sits on the sidelines. Thus if “not many Island producers are in a financial position to invest in expansion” who are the producers financially in the position to invest in irrigation systems? Is it the large corporations you refer to buying up the land and forcing family farms out of business? I find it difficult to believe the average farmer wants to, or can afford to, invest thousands of dollars into irrigation systems when they are already facing tight margins.
Therefore, is it really family farms looking for more access to water or large corporations? If I remember correctly there was no answer to the question, how many farmers are asking for irrigation, when it was asked in the fall sitting of the legislature. It seemed not even the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture or the P.E.I. Potato Board could answer. I believe the answer is not yet available.
As an Islander, I feel I am not being given the true facts in this water campaign, and that the majority of farmers are perhaps not being truly portrayed or represented. That is unfortunate.
Carol Carragher is a member of the Coalition for the Protection of P.E.I. Lands who lives in Cumberland.