By: Bill Duncan
Lanark Landowners Association Sept. 6, 2004
(Posted Here With Permission)
We have all heard the phrase “the pen is mightier than the sword”, and how true Bill Shakespeare was. To have an idea and express it with paper and pen is far harder than waging war. To convince someone, to see reason, commit to some level of understanding, or to join a cause and convince people your view is right, is a much greater task than just “blowing him away”. There is a phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” and that statement is completely true. To look at a picture and describe it exactly with words” so the person reading can clearly see the actual picture” is a humungous task, and one I’m not capable of doing, or at least doing justice to.
The rural revolution’s first roadblock of the food strike was Sept. 3rd, on Shaw Road near Pakenham. It was the first time I witnessed hundreds of people standing in line to buy food. This line was not because of some tragedy that wiped out our food supply, but was very reminiscent of pictures from the dirty thirty’s when people lined up at the soup kitchens to find something to eat. These people in line were here to buy meat at a very reasonable cost. The more they stood in line the more they heard and understood how BSE and over zealous government bureaucrats and regulations were forcing farmers closed and into a position where they wouldn’t be able to feed themselves, let alone others. In addition to the abattoirs, sawmills and campgrounds forced closed.
Through this controlled chaos there was a group of eighteen LLA farmers standing in front of the combines and tractors. They always seemed to joke, talk, and carry on the way rural neighbours do. I’m sure the topic of conversation was the size, length, and numbers of people in the food lineup. None of these men seemed as surprised as I was at what they saw. As young boys this was something these18 farmers saw with their own eyes; people lining up for food during the depression.
This group of eighteen men are in their mid seventy’s and would recognize the names of people not here anymore. They knew what those long gone people would think of this food strike and line up. They reminisced what so and so would do, if he was still here to spice things up to get the lineup moving quicker. One would make a smart remark and a good laugh was shared, as the beef kept moving. These eighteen farmers are no one in today’s society, not community leaders or celebrities, just folks with a sense of community and belonging. But they are the last of the last, and will not give up without a good fight. They have made their living off the land, been good stewards, even when the word wasn’t trendy, raised families, paid for their kids’ education so they can write and have an opinion and participate in life. Whenever a problem arose they faced the challenge; they know right from wrong, and they’re always there to solve a problem. In Lanark we are blessed with many young farmers, but sadly many are not like the eighteen; they’re only concern is for themselves. They’ve abandoned their community and themselves and until they loose everything, they are seemingly willing to take less and less. There’re used to working harder and longer to get less and less: and have become complacent or don’t know how to fight back.
Thank God for those 18 old men over by the combines and the LLA, as news of this strikes success trickles out, people will learn they no longer must accept less and less. During the food strike they averaged $ 2,252.00 in sales every hour. That’s $0.62 every second, and the line of people never seemed to get smaller. After 3-1/2 hours they finally ran out of food to sell. There was nothing left, just empty freezers, baskets and bushels, and the noticeable expression of hope that filled the road: and the 18 had made a difference. So here is something to ponder – Take 18 OLDER FARMERS multiply that by $0.62 per second over 3-1/2 hours, what do you get? A whole lot of cash, renewed hope and the satisfaction of winning.
That is the power of 18, can you imagine the success of 200,000 farmers who are willing to fight back and reclaim their heritage and rights. It would be a picture of success, so indescribable with words and far mightier than any pen. A force that government bureaucrats and trans national corporations would quickly surrender to.