• Protecting Water and Farmland in Simcoe County

The perilous position of Canadian farming

In Agriculture
Aug 3rd, 2010

By Nickolas Rowe AWARE Simcoe July 29 2010
Many of us are concerned about the loss of good farmland to solar and wind energy projects. The question is why are farmers selling their land to these projects? The answer is that farming  is close to collapse as a source of income for the mainly family farms which provide Canadians with most of their food. This could be a democratic disaster. If the family’s disappear they will be replaced by corporations. Corporations will not hesitate in raising the price of food enormously.
The most important question is why the majority of Canadians are reluctant to pay their fellow Canadians an adequate amount of money for the food that they are producing. The French tried this out on their own farmers. The farmers responded by getting together all their heavy machinery and moved out to block the major highways until they were offered a fair price for their produce. Naturally they were successful. Shades of site 41.
Relevant facts:
-The Debt currently being carried by the farmers in Canada is $64 billion (yes billion not million)!
-Government subsidies are roughly equivalent to the current debt payments.
-When interest rates inevitably go up farmers incomes will shrink to even smaller levels as they have to handle the increased debt.
(Many family farms continue to survive and produce food because they are willing to work at jobs off the farm to subsidise their farming. The subtitle for the NFU report reads: ‘Serfdom 2.0’. This gives some idea of how they feel about their plight.).
We have been told that prices are set by market forces. In this situation it means that the farmers have not been determined enough in demanding a reasonable price for their produce. Clearly this whole situation represents a serious injustice. Unfortunately I do not think that the Canadian farmers will follow the example of the French. I get the impression that anything that looks like increased food prices creates an almost hysterical reaction in many people. How do you feel about this?
Suggested Remedies
-Do everything we can to support our local farmers. Some sort of cooperative venture between food producers and food processors might help to raise their income.
-Move to ‘Organic’ Agriculture.
This involves a switch in growing methods and obtaining certification. It needs a certain amount of investment. However the ‘organic’ market pays at least double the price and more. It is a growing market. I personally find that ‘organic’ produce tastes better, is more nutritious and safer (no GM foods). It is an older tradition and now thoroughly researched and developed.
Start to question the doctrine of ‘market forces’. This sets up Profit as the ideal to be pursued by all business. The environment and those who do the Job (a.k.a. the workers) are treated  as unfortunate expenses to be reduced as far as possible. We the consumers (and workers) are treated as naive targets to be deceived into contributing as much as possible to the glorious goal of Profit. We have been conditioned into wanting the cheapest deals and manufacturers oblige with the lowest quality product. The race to the bottom is building up speed. The destruction of the Gulf of Mexico is just one of the casualties on the way.
If you want further background I suggest you look at the document by the National Farmers Union ( http://www.nfu.ca/ )
 which was mentioned on the site 41 website a while back.




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