A Farmer on Supply Management Privileges

Commentary, Marketing Boards, Frontier Centre

Thanks so much for your “brave” opinions presented on AgVision. I’m a 34 year old 6th generation cash crop farmer in Eastern Ontario and I was absolutely thrilled to hear my very own thoughts coming through the television speakers – only much more succinctly articulated.

My father and grandfather sold their highly respected dairy herd more than 35 years ago for a variety of reasons, but the supply management noose was one of the big ones. The cash crop sector represented one of the last bastions of freedom in the Ontario ag industry.

Our opinions regarding trade barriers and subsidies have been shouted down at so many meetings over the years, that we don’t have the heart to get involved in this type of debate anymore.

Geri Kamenz is a vice-president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and he farms here in Eastern Ontario. I have heard him say that, “…supply management is the only system working in agriculture right now”. I can quote him directly because the words made me so goddamned furious, they’re indelibly burned into my brain. I’ve said to him, “How can you say a system is working when a young person, aspiring to produce broilers, for instance, has to borrow about 3/4 of a million dollars to meet the minimum entry level requirements for quota – before any other investments in land, buildings, bins, livestock, etc.? How is that ‘working’?” There was (and is) no response to this.

Unfortunately, those of us who depend upon global export markets are intimidated from speaking out about the negative impact supply management imposes upon our potential, for fear that our long-time friends and neighbours will be so incensed, that relationships will be irreparably damaged. Meanwhile, they take leisure trips, go snowmobiling, boating, and drive by in antique convertible cars while we keep our 30+ year old tractors patched up and plugging away with the windows open because the licensed air conditioning mechanic charges $60/hour.

My dad waxes philosophically that these cycles come and go, and we must simply endure the status quo by staying sharp and adapt with the winds of change. Perhaps I’m not old enough to know better, but your comments have galvanized me. I’m hoping that the county at large is becoming galvanized; sickened by political corruption and greed and disillusioned by socialist dogma proven false.

If there’s anything I can do to help free our country, I’m at your service.

E-mail from Ontario