Right in the Centre – Troubled Times


By Ken Waddell

Neepawa Banner & Press

This week, we kick off the first of four weeks of our annual "Everything for your farm" editions. We are thankful for our farmers and our ag industry. As the saying goes, "The farmers feed us all." We are also thankful as a newspaper and a community for the companies that serve our farm industry. Many of those companies are featured in this week's colour centre spread.

Farming has faced many challenges over the decades in western Canada. There's the expected effects of drought, flooding, hail and frost. Those things happen and often unpredictably. Add to that railway strikes and threats of strikes, climbing fuel prices and fertilizer shortages and you have a recipe for stress. Stress on the farmers, suppliers and consumers. Farmers and the ag industry are faced with tough decisions every day, but they have to make them and then live by them. We have to live by our decisions, too.

This year is unique, as we are in the turmoil of war. The tanks and guns, the land mines and the horrific death toll are far away, but the effects are felt around the world, The country of Ukraine is under attack by Russia. Russia, by all accounts, should have won this war weeks ago, but they haven't. Rest assured they won't quit unless they are forced to do so. Losing possibly thousands of soldiers and hundreds of pieces of military equipment will not deter them. Only brute force will stop Russia, or more specifically, Mr. Putin.

Putin has been clearly described by people who know him, and known his wrath, as being insanely possessed with the desire of restoring some version of a former Russian empire. It's an unrealistic goal, and likely an unachievable goal, but that doesn't deter Putin. For him, it's a do or die situation and he knows he is going to die some day. He's close to 70 years old and while he may be seen as insane, or close to it, he is not stupid. And, for now at least, he is in control of a very large country with a very large military. That they are losing the war for now in Ukraine is a testament to the will of the Ukrainian people and the apparent ineptness of the Russian military machine. It seems that the loyalty, dedication and training of the Russian military are all lacking the intensity required to be effective in a real war fought on foreign ground.

The effects of the Ukraine war are being felt around the world. Certainly the destruction of buildings and infrastructure, the deaths and injuries and the overwhelming refugee influx to surrounding countries makes for a terrifying situation.

For our farmers, the economic destruction is causing a lot of concerns. Supplies are being wildly disrupted by the war and by sanctions. Ukraine produces a lot of food. Their farmers may not be able to plant all the crops this year. They may be hindered by land mines, by actual battles, by fuel shortages, etc. The list goes on. Will Ukraine and Russia even be able to feed themselves this year or in years to come? Will European countries be able to survive with reduced supplies of Russian gas and oil? As our farmers head to the fields in the next few weeks, the war must weigh heavily on their minds and their bank accounts.

As we approach Easter time, it would be helpful and wise to turn our attention to the Christian message of hope and salvation. In the bluntest of terms, we can work and strive all we want, but in the final analysis, we were born, we live and we die. The hope and promise of Heaven is the only certainty we can cling to in good times and in tough times alike.

It's important that we make the best of a tough situation. In Canada, we have much to be thankful for. We are still prosperous, but our current governments are doing their best to erode that prosperity. The ongoing nonsense about leaving the gas and oil industry in the past and doing it very quickly is basically stupid. Not only stupid, but unreachable. We don't have enough oil and gas to get us to the dreamy place where we can do without oil and gas. We may possibly reach the goal of zero emissions, but don't hold your breath. We are likely decades away from that point.

What we need to do is grow what we can, wherever we can, be it food or industry. Look after what lies in front of us each day and place our faith in God and, to some extent, our own efforts. That's what our farmers do every day, every year. We need to learn from our farmers and support them.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this column are the writer's personal views and are not to be taken as being the view of the Banner & Press staff.