Pay Farmers For Valuable Service photo

Well hasn’t this just been another winter of delight? Lot’s of cold, lot’s of snow, both of those I can handle, and the biggie that I have a personal problem with lots of wind.

And that leads me to a modest proposal. Not quite the Modest Proposal of Swiftian proportions from almost 300 years ago, but one that might solve a problem of the 21st century. Possibly two.

OK it’s winter, and I get that. I am, I am proud to say Canadian. But driving around in one of those big wind storms a little while ago gave me pause to think. It was clear on the north-south road I was travelling that trees are our friends. In the areas between woodlots, and even standard single rows of trees, the amount of snow on the road, the amount blocking visibility was way less than that of the open fields.

I’m someone who does know how to drive to conditions. In that recent trek out on the roads in a roaring wind, I never did hit the speed limit. Mostly I travelled 15 to 20 kilometres an hour below it.

In those areas out in the wild flat and treeless lands of Chatham-Kent where there was nothing to block the snow visibility sometimes dropped to the front of the hood of the car and the pace of the car dropped to about 5 km/h. We’re not going in the ditch, we will just hope, the folks travelling behind us also slow down to some appropriate visibility.

So…. What does this have to do with agriculture? Well, In almost every area of Ontario outside the major cities, when the wind whips the snow around and visibility drops to almost nothing, the trees that give you a break and a glimpse of the road ahead are on farmland.

And while some won’t like my bringing this up, we are in a bit of a battle between farmers who think they should be able to cut trees to grow corn and those who thing they have the rights to take away landowner rights to their property and force them to keep the trees.

Well if this winter doesn’t clearly show there is a public benefit to windbreaks, a public safety issue, I don;t know what will.

There was time when municipal roads crews put up snow fences in the most drift prone areas. That was stopped, for budgetary reasons.

And now in 2015, we creep along the roads so slowly when a few trees would solve a lot of problems.

And lets face it trees will continue to be an issue. As a few bush lots come down, the political issue over tree cutting by-laws will raise again. Maybe this year, maybe not,but it will come back to haunt us.

So maybe the time has come to skip the logical conclusion that trees are good for the environment and the environment is good for everyone, so everyone should pay for the trees, and jump right to the public safety issue.

We have less snow drifting if we have more trees. Less snow drifting means fewer car crashes. And that helps us all out. So why don’t we all compensate farmers for growing trees along roads if they are willing to? Make them a cash crop.

Because we know, whether we live in Chatham-Kent or other counties that it is an issue. And one that the tree huggers, and bless them for their ardour, and the woodlot owners and bless them for their arbours, are not going to let go away.

Bottom line. If trees benefit is all, we should all pay for them, and we should pay the people who grow them.

When we can all agree on that. Life will be a lot simpler.