Report touts philosophy of resilience in agriculture

© AgMedia Inc.


Mussell's report leaves much to be desired. He says that catastrophic events such as floods and hurricanes change the landscape of agriculture but omits to mention other possible events. Ebola is now in large urban centers in Africa. Small villages are now under quarantine which means no one in, no one out. That means no food into the quarantined area. If the village has sustainable food production, then its just a matter of time before the virus runs its course. If a virus, such as ebola, were to enter large urban areas in north america, the government will quickly find out agriculture is not sustainable for the population. Borders would close in that event. No one in, no one out. The movement of agricultural inputs would halt. Animal meds, fuel, fertilizers, seeds, equipment parts are mostly imported. Mussell's review of Ontario agricultural sustainability doesn't even scratch the surface.

The take I get from Al Mussel is we in Ag have to constantly adapt and change to what is happening in the environment and / or catastrophic events and just trying to sustain the same way of farming as we did 10-40-100 yrs. ago does not work . What did the people in Europe do during WW2 ? And with RR resistance we will change too. I think Al did a excellent job . KG Kimball

Agriculture seems to constantly forget that the most important part of any implementation process is the "monitoring and reviewing" components of that process - or, in other words, the minute we implement something, we should start looking for ways to get rid of it in favour of something better.

Two cases in point are supply management and ethanol - both were flawed economic models right from the start, if, for no other reason than because both represent a soviet-style "command and control" philosophy, and we should have started to plan ways to get rid of them the day each was implemented.

Furthermore, adhering to sound economic principles, ie. avoiding tariffs and mandates, is the closest thing to "sustainable" that agriculture, or any other sector of the economy, can aspire to achieve - sound economic principles never become obsolete.

Stephen Thompson, Clinton ON

The day you implement some thing is the day you also look at ways to do things better . Funny how the gospel according to Stephen always has it's own little twists and quirks .

Stephen also forgets that ethanol mandates have a start and finish dates unlike SM . Further there are times when you have to compete directly with thy neighbor which SM does not . So you might as well quit trying to compare or call them the same .
It is obvious that Mr. Thompson does not have a clue as to what sustainable agriculture is .

What did the people in Europe do during WW2? Canada had an obligation to send food to the mother country. Wheat was bought from our farmers at a set price of $1.55 (COP). Pork, butter, beef, etc also shipped to the mother country. The english people changed their diet to adapt to reduced availability of food. Other countries that could not produce their own needs saw starvation inside their borders. North America had sustainable agriculture. Today, the majority of our inputs are imported. Agriculture will change in a major event today, but at what cost to the population? Mussell touches on some aspects but does not go far enough in light of today's global events.

In response to "What did the People?" ( )

I agree.

However, the history goes back a lot further than WW II, it goes all the way back to Rev. Malthus, the Corn Laws, and the Irish Famine (see ).

Will Canadians have food security when our needs are the greatest?

Glenn Black
Small Flock Poultry Farmers of Canada

Food security comes from having more, not fewer, potential sources of supply, and has nothing to do with any notion of sustainability. It is, therefore, incorrect to equate sustainability with security.

Too many people, especially those in supply management, tout their system as promoting food security and/or food sustainability when, by restricting imports, they are actually making the food system less-secure.

Furthermore, food-security almost always means, by thwarting imports by one means or another, increased costs to consumers and a net-negative influence on jobs and economic activity.

More to the point, Mr. Black's apparent attempt to equate food security (which is always bad economic policy and expensive to consumers) with food sustainability would seem to be exactly why the George Morris Centre took issue with the concept of sustainability in the first place.

Stephen Thompson, Clinton ON

In response to "Sustainable Food Supplies Does Not Equal Food Security"

I agree that food security is enhanced by having more supply chains.

It is also enhanced by the quality, robustness, resilience, and long term relationship between customer and supplier.

When food supplies are strained, suppliers often allocate the available food amongst their historic customers. They will not be welcoming "foul weather friends" who suddenly want to become a customer.

If a food supply is not sustainable, that means it's non-sustainable, which means its days are numbered, it will be coming to an end, sooner or later. As it comes closer and closer to its ultimate termination, the quality and quantity available will likely deteriorate. The customers of a non-sustainable food supply will obviously suffer throughout this deterioration of their non-sustainable food supply. How could this possibly be called food security?

Obviously, sustainability is a necessary pre-condition to having food security.

Anything else is a flash in the pan that cannot be relied upon.

Glenn Black
Small Flock Poultry Farmers of Canada

Al, has fallen from grace, or the turnip truck, I am disappointed he has taken a very narrow, view and dumb'ed it down.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that small holders can produce a ton of food in a small area, look at the the vegetable industry in France, they grow huge amounts of veggies in tiny plots in the city limits for commercial sales, close to the market place.

In my view the big issue with farming is that there is a certain group of baby bombers who have a sense of entitlement and feel so sorry for them self's about how hard they have to work, lets face it those who work smarter are always way more financially viable then those who just work harder.

I had an old farming neighbor who use to always remind me to work smarter not hard, he use to say your brain will last longer then your back.

There is no way i could every handle working a 40 hour week in a factory, I like the freedom we have as farmers to make our own hours and go away on rainy days or take a day off and go to the farm show or other farming events. We have a lot of freedom that the average Joe doesn't have and we have all experienced a huge increase in our capital wealthy from land values, the same can't be said for person with a house in some town or city, not to the same increases we have seen in the past decade.

Keep in mind a lot of the things we do each day, are things that other rural non farmers have to also do, cut fire wood, blow snow, cut grass, maintain there property, most days we do a lot of things that are not truly farm related but get grouped in with what we call farm work.

At the end of the day i am glad i am a farmer and making a living at it. Remember work smarter not harder....

Sean McGivern

McGivern wrote: "there is a certain group of baby bombers who have a sense of entitlement and feel so sorry for them self's about how hard they have to work," So now you call some farmers terrorists full of self pity? Where and what do baby bombers farm? IED's maybe? Implanted Endive and Dill?

that is so funny ...I remember you asking me Stan Holmes "what turnip truck did I fall off " that must be your standard line.
oh yes , thank you for the morning "sermon" on how your work day happens....certainly not the norm.

Stan Holmes

How can you say he "dumb'ed it down" when many would suggest that he finally smartened up . Maybe dumbing it down is a PFO thing !
Amazing what people will put out when a payment for service is being paid .
Al I think is a smart guy but got caught in the fact of the think tank chasing dollars which paid his wage .

Don't forget that you can work hard and still work smart .

All farm technologies do not fail, the majority simply become outdated but then what is considered outdated in this Country is very popular in some lesser developed nation.China seems to do very well with some of our machinery from closed outdated manufacturing plants.

I see no mention of COOL,PED,BSE or the recent Russian import ban? would they not fall into the unpredictable hazards category?

When Mussel talks about Agriculture in this Country operating in a context of inherent uncertainty he is obviously stating the obvious with reguards to non-Supply Management sectors.

Al Mussell of George Morris Centre has some alarming ideas.

Perhaps we should start with the definition of sustainability "Environmental Science. the quality of not being harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources, and thereby supporting long-term ecological balance" (see ).

Mussell seems to have distorted the word when he said "Sustainable agriculture – a philosophy that essentially calls on farmers to not take any risks with new technologies". Mussell then adds that sustainability is undesirable and unobtainable.

First of all, sustainability is not the rejection of change. Sustainability does not require being a Luddite.

In fact, sustainability calls for huge change, away from our recent deviation into unsustainable practices, calling for a return to a path of more and more sustainability.

If Mussell is against sustainability, where does Mussell's proposed path eventually lead? If his recommended path is one of unsustainability, then his path eventually leads into a blind alley, a cliff, or a swamp of infinite quicksand. Either way, if we follow Mussell's path, we will eventually face severe consequences.

Who in their right mind would follow a False Prophet who recommends the path of unsustainability?

Is Mussell proposing that it's OK to be unsustainable now, provided we suddenly swerve back onto the righteous path of sustainability just before the arrival of the natural consequences of our folly?

To me, that's a recipe for disaster. Humans develop habits that are hard to change. Think, what was the last issue on which all of the world agreed? When it came time to turn the steering wheel at the last second, everybody will be grabbing for the steering wheel simultaneously. We'll crash for sure.

Is it OK to go on a murderous rampage as long as we eventually stop and start behaving ourselves?

Sustainability calls us to think about all of the consequences for our actions, not just the benefits immediately before our face.

Sustainability means that we and the 7 or more generations who come after us will be able to continue doing as we propose to do today.

If we are raping the planet today while dumping the cost for our wayward actions onto future generations, then this is not sustainable.

How can Al Mussell get so confused on such a simple issue?

I can only assume he gets so confused because someone pays him to confuse himself and mislead others.

Glenn Black
Small Flock Poultry Farmers of Canada

If I am not mistaken, this series of articles issued by the George Morris Centre is paid for by themselves, and therefore, reflect the views of the author(s) rather than any commercial interests

In addition, I took from this article that Mussell believes too many dumb things are being done simply because some far-fetched notion of "sustainability" is being affixed, by too many scoundrels, to what is being done.

In the larger sense, I think Mr. Black is engaging in some sort of exercise in semantics about what sustainability is all about - the George Morris Centre appears to believe that sustainability, as it seems to be defined by those who support small scale, and/or organic, agriculture is a false god because of things like yield drag, more land needed for the same output, increased erosion, increased costs to consumers because of inoptimal production economies of scale.

Furthermore, supply management, ethanol, wind and solar energy, are all definitionally-unsustainable because they rely on legislation rather than economics for existence - yet, many on this site would claim that the only reason dairy farming is sustainable in Canada is because of supply management, thereby making the term "sustainable" a definitional contradiction in, and of, itself.

Stephen Thompson, Clinton ON

When did the Pork or Beef farmers or for that matter any other Agricultural commodity group in this country ever go out and secure worldly trade deals without the leadership and legalization of the present or past Governments?

Good economics be damned.

Mussell touts the benefits of resiliency, and that means trying to adhere, as beef and hog farmers do, to the basic economic principles of comparative advantage even when Canadian governments, by sticking up for supply management, do everything they can to thwart both resiliency and good economics.

More to the point, government support for supply management, and ethanol for that matter, is all about short-sighted stupidity, and has nothing to do with sustainability, good economics, or resiliency.

Or, in other words, there is nothing resilient, or sustainable, about the false sense of security provided by protectionism, either in the guise of supply management or in the guise of food security.

Good economics be praised - anonymous postings be damned!

Stephen Thompson, Clinton ON

Then by your reasoning, what is sustainable in our economy? Legislated minimum wage protection is a false sense of security under the guise of living wage security. Minimum wage laws are the foundation to regulate commerce and in effect stabilize the economy. Looks like you cherry pick your arguments.

In response to "It's On Their Own 'Dime'"

It appears that we are on opposite sides of this issue, but that is not my purpose, and I don't think this impression is reality as we seem to have been consistently on the same or similar side of many or most issues in the past. Perhaps we are saying the same thing in different ways (eg. 6 of one or half dozen of the other).

George Morris Centre knows which side of their bread has the butter. To me, it appears they are aligned more with Big Ag. and intensive agriculture, not the small family farm. That bias and the underlying assumptions, mostly unsupported by objective facts, become obvious in this BF article. Whether they were expressly paid for these GMC research reports, or they were done freelance to curry future favors from Big Ag. is a moot point, as it results in the same problems in the end.

I agree that there are many dumb things being done in the name of sustainability, organic, and all of the other buzz words and propaganda that are re-defined and corrupted to suit the self-serving purposes of Big Ag and/or fraudsters.

I do not engage in semantics; neither here nor elsewhere. I use and rely upon the dictionary definition of sustainability, not half truths, nor hyperbole, nor euphemisms, nor smoke and mirrors.

In Michael Pollan's book "Omnivore's Dilemma" on pg. 161, he states "In fact, study after study has demonstrated that, measured in terms of the amount of food produced per acre, small farms are actually MORE productive than big farms;..."

Where is the yield drag and low productivity of which you speak? Please provide the link or reference to the objective facts upon which you rely.

Glenn Black
Small Flock Poultry Farmers of Canada

Time to step back Glenn and really take a look at where the words of wisdom are coming from .
Many from the back roads in farm country do not agree with what they proclaimed for years to how it is . Just 2 years ago I called one of their board members and told them that they would not be long folding up with what their researchers were touting .
Now all I can say is ...
George Morris What ? Where are they now ??

In response to "Time To Step Back"

I agree with you.

It is unfortunate that George Morris Centre ("GMC") is now, or soon will be defunct. I trust their legacy wasn't all bad, but it appears that GMC lost their vision and/or focus somewhere along the way.

Mr. George Morris worked hard all his life to earn it, then gifted over $1 Million to Univ. of Guelph to establish and continue research and assistance to agriculture in Ontario and Canada.

That was a very impressive gift, and a notable commitment to Mr. Morris' vision for Canadian agriculture.

It is unfortunate that this gift has been somewhat wasted, and the name and vision of the benefactor will be in some small but significant way tarnished by GMC's performance, especially of late.

I hope we can all learn some lessons from this tragedy, for the sake of the memory of Mr. George Morris.

Glenn Black
Small Flock Poultry Farmers of Canada

All of these anonymous clowns who continuosly attempt to discredit the George Morris center, are nothing but fools. When the day comes that any farm organization or group(except PFO, they do) can exist without legislated check off fees and/or legislation, they may have a point. Until then they need to shut their pie hole or at least offer a valid argument.

Raube Beuerman

These papers are meant to be provocative,they invite criticism and l'm sure Mr.Mussel understands that.

My only concern with it is,"when did it become Canada's farmers responsiblity to feed the world's hungry"? and at what price.

On Wingham radio this morning, they stated that there are more people than ever depending on food banks, especially in areas about a half an hour north of where I live.

By definition, we know that SM and ethanol raise the price of food.

I have travelled that area, and I will tell you that the established poultry and dairy farmers are living quite well.

Time to transition those sectors from a regressive system, to a progressive one.

Government, are you listening?
Raube Beuerman, Dublin, ON

In response to "We Could Start Here"

The world price for food is highly correlated by the price of crude oil. See UN data graphed here:

It didn't used to be this way. This correlation was started by Big Ag. and intensive agricultural practices.

My local food bank has seen a 70% increase in clients in the last 3 years; that's a 20%/yr increase, a true growth industry.

Changes must be made soon, or many people will have to choose to starve or freeze this winter, as they can't afford to solve both problems.

For further explanation of the issues and some solutions, see our Blog

Glenn Black
Small Flock Poultry Farmers of Canada

Your wrong Black. The price of wheat always was based on the price of a barrel of oil. When the gold standard was removed, commodity pricing bowed to the speculators.

There are so many conspiracy theories surrounding gold, that it is simply mind boggling.

You seem to be one of them in stating that wheat price is based on oil.

I will admit that I don't understand it either, that is why I will never own it.

But no one needs to understand gold, because if you look at the investment return over the last hundred years on gold, the S&P 500 has blown it away.

Raube Beuerman

I said that oil WAS based on wheat prices. It was the standard until the 70's. If you lived it, you should know that otherwise take a trip to the library.

fixing exchange rates to a gold standard of $35 per ounce became unworkable by the early 1970s because it limited the use of monetary policy to stimulate and/or regulate the economy. No country currently uses any sort of gold standard to value its currency.

In addition, the belief that oil, wheat, and/or gold prices are somehow linked is one of the most far-fetched and most-unbelievable theories ever postulated, even on this site, and it is probably a good thing the author is anonymous because it saves him/her from well-deserved public ridicule.

Stephen Thompson, Clinton ON

Cant read either Thompson? Pricing of wheat and oil WERE (always indicated pass tense) relative.

You can find the book in any good library.

I think the Beef and Pork sectors have contributed more than their fair share to raising food prices.

With retail Beef and Pork price percentages climbing into the double digits and beyond this past year its not hard to figure that more people would be turning to food banks.

Your rather biased opinion on how Dairy or Poultry farmers live has nothing to do with the fact beef and pork prices have risen 12-16% in the past year while overall food inflation was just 3%.

Tomorrows news on Wingham will be there are more Vegetarians than ever...Duh!

The fact that chicken or dairy has not increased in price as much as pork or beef this year, only masks the fact that consumers have been receiving a royal screwing from them for the last few decades.

Raube Beuerman

Next to Natural gas nothing has risen more in prices the last year than Beef and Pork,if fact chicken and Dairy has seen a slight decreases.

I would assume more people than ever using food banks does not take in "the last few decades".

The correlation of the amount of 'dead money' accumulated in quota(and land bought by leveraged quota) has risen along with the amount of people dependant upon food banks.

The inflation of quota has resulted in a direct transfer of wealth from quota owners to non-quota owners. It sits there and does nothing and adds zero macro-economic growth.
The exact opposite occurs. By raising the overhead costs of everyone who does not own quota, through, by definition, food costs, real capital formation and spending is choked.

Raube Beuerman

I was under the impression that natural gas prices, thanks to increased supplies resulting from hydraulic fracturing (fracking), had declined by some 70% since 2008, thereby effectively thwarting the expansion plans of every North American propane supplier, as well as thwarting the ability of every ethanol supporter to claim ethanol is needed for so-called "energy security".

Therefore, it is wildly misleading to make reference to any increase in the price of natural gas in the past year without mentioning what the price of natural gas was ten years ago before fracking became widespread.

When it comes to food banks, farmers are among the biggest hypocrites anywhere - dairy and poultry farmers for obvious reasons, and, of late, grain farmers for denying the effect that ethanol mandates have on the price of food and the overall drag these mandates have on jobs and economic activity.

Our hypocrisy has hit new lows with the new food donation credit - if we weren't so intent on screwing the consumer by ethanol mandates and import tariffs, fewer consumers would need to use food banks in the first place.

Stephen Thompson, Clinton ON

Natural gas companies went to the energy board not long ago and were given a 40% increase . So your fracking from days gone by is moot and not even in the cards any more there Slick ! .
You do have high speed internet there now don't you ?

The 40% increase took the energy board all of 4 nanoseconds to approve, therefore the next 40% may take almost 5 nanoseconds to pass. So much for cheap natural gas.

According to an Ontario Energy Board backgrounder issued subsequent to the April 1, 2014 natural gas price increase given to Enbridge Gas Distribution Inc., the rates approved for Enbridge "have declined from over 40 cents per cubic meter (in 2006), to less than ten cents (during most of 2012)", before rising sharply from about 12 cents in January of 2014, to 20.89 cents per cubic meter in April of 2014.

Basic arithmetic understood (hopefully, but not likely) even by anonymous posters on this site indicates that the natural gas price approved in April of 2014 is still about half the price it was in January of 2006.

In addition, even people without internet service at all could easily go to their local public library last week and find out, from the Ottawa Citizen's September 26, 2014 edition, that the price to be charged by Enbridge would, as of October 1, 2014, be 14.6 cents per cubic meter.

This newspaper article also outlined that the substantial price increase (to 20.89 cents per liter) granted to Enbridge in April of 2014 was:
(1) the result of an unusally cold winter which caused Enbridge to experience "a $655.5 million shortfall that it accrued last winter due to unprecedented demand for natural gas".
(2) Subsequently rolled back by the Ontario Energy Board to 18.57 cents.

In addition, the Citizen article added context to the discussion by quoting Mike Shaw, an economist with the Conference Board of Canada who said - "the cooler summer and booming production of natural gas also played a factor in helping utilities such as Enbridge lower the price they charge consumers, while refilling natural gas storage facilities in preparation for the upcoming winter."

Therefore, I would invite every member of this site's anonymous, dismissive, and not-very bright rabble, and especially the above patronizing fool who, even with high-speed internet, is not just behind the times, but also completely-out-of touch with reality, to note that today's retail natural gas price of 14.6 cents per cubic meter is about 65% less than the over-40 cents it was in early 2006.

Stephen Thompson, Clinton ON

So what unit of measure is correct . There is a big difference in price per L or price per cubic meter !

I was so absorbed with the necessity to make sure the numbers were right, I inadvertently allowed one unit of measurement typo to slip through. However, since I did accurately report the twenty some cents per cubic meter elsewhere in the report, and used the cubic meter measurement consistently everywhere else, even the dumbest member of this site's anonymous rabble should have had no trouble figuring out this was nothing but an inadvertent oversight, rather than the sort of deliberate, and consistent, mis-representations to which I am obliged to respond.

However, when compared to the poorly-researched, misleading, and out-of-context claims made in the patronizing, demeaning, as well as anonymous posting to which I was responding, my point that natural gas is, even today, some 65% less than it was in 2006, and likely to stay that way to the detriment of both the propane and ethanol industries, still shows that there are some really-stupid, and really-obnoxious, and thankfully for them, anonymous jerks on this site.

Somebody has to take these obnoxious and anonymous jerks with high-speed internet but slow-speed brains to task, and if it has to be me, even with one typo every so often, so-be-it - I can live with it.

Stephen Thompson, Clinton ON

Sure don't take much to get you all stirred up does it . If now the teacher was marking a final exam would a slip like that make it past or not ? Could be the difference between a pass or a fail . Sure would if you were doing your pesticide safety course .

I mean really get past the stage of always having to be a total jerk about every thing and the persona that because I Steve Thompson said it is so that it is to be and only be they way I say it is .

Oh well . Don't have a holstein cow man !!

This is great for shits and giggles !!

When some anonymous jerk comes on this site and falls all over himself/herself to be patronizing and dismissive, especially about my supposed inability to research anything properly without the use of high-speed internet, and then proceeds to offer figures taken totally out of context (a one-time price hike of natural gas from about 12 cents a cubic meter to over 20 cents) to try to claim that the era of "cheap" natural gas is over, while, all the time neglecting to point out:

(A) the 20 cent price was rolled back to about 18 cents
(B) the price approved for this time period starting six months later is about 14 cents meaning that the price has gone from about 12 cents at the start of 2014 to about 14 cents now - thereby completely emasculating the out-of-context fearmongering emanating from the price increase announced last April.
(C) the price of natural gas, thanks largely to hydraulic fracturing, has declined from about 40 cents in early 2006 to about 14 cents today, which is about a 65% price decline, and with no indication that it is going to go back to 40 cents any time soon, if ever, to the continuing delight of natural gas customers, and to the continuing disgust of propane retailers and ethanol supporters.

would, in any post-secondary class I've ever taken, or taught, guarantee an automatic failure.

Yet, when I take the time and effort to systematically dispel the first anonymous jerk's outlandish claims, another, or maybe even the same anonymous jerk ignores everything I've posted except one minor typo, and now, another anonymous jerk claims I am thin-skinned for getting irate when people ignore the accurate, and relevant, numbers I post, and the undeniable conclusions derived therefrom, in favour of cherry-picking a data-entry error in exactly the same way the first anonymous jerk cherry-picked his/her data when making his/her egregiously-bad claims about a one-time (and temporary) increase in the price of natural gas.

The total jerks on this site are the anonymous imbeciles who can't do anything except offer out-of-context data to support ridiculous theories, and/or pillory those of us who do offer relevant data to dispel them.

And, yes, a typo of the kind I made would certainly make it past a time-limited exam in any course I've ever taught - any student diligent enough to systematically dispel the type of outright mis-representations offered by the poster who claimed a one time increase in the price of natural gas was the end of the "fracking" era, would be rewarded by any except the most-boorish instructor. The anonymous, and out-of-context misrepresentations as seen too-often posted on this site would, and should, qualify for an automatic failure.

It's like this - anonymous posters deserve to be treated like total jerks because, by not identifying who they are, they are total jerks who deserve all the abuse anyone can heap on them.

Stephen Thompson, Clinton ON

editors why do let this jerk, imbecile, know it all post on this site. just read his last paragraph I don't see anything in there that follows your guidelines.

the signed rabble on this site is far worse than the unsigned!!!!!!! if only the editors would follow their own rules and not publish your rabble!!!

non sm farmer

Raube, you could also start by stop denying that the valco land sale study very clearly identifies "intensive livestock" as well as SM as the ones still bidding up the price of land. Perhaps a comparison of food prices world wide would help solve the century old problem of surplus food yet poor people dependent on food donations.

Any support(which is very small) that beef or pork farmers recieve, by definition does not raise the price of food.

The support that SM farmers recieve, through tariffs, by definition raises the price of food.

Raube Beuerman

So, given that the Beef and Pork subsidy totals and COP numbers aren't available to review how can you claim that Beef and Pork subsidies are "small". Furthermore, it would appear from the Valco real estate numbers that intensive livestock producers are using some of that subsidy money to bid up the price of land. I suspect the rest is being used to buy some new or upgraded paint the same as SM farmers are doing.

In response to "We Could Start Here"

SM chicken in Canada has been proven to be 31.7% less affordable for minimum wage earners in Ontario during the 10 year period 1995 to 2005 (see June 17, 2014 posting "Unaffordable Chicken in Ontario" on our Blog.

Is CFO responsible for tracking and understanding the impact of their farm gate live price increases?

CFO has TOTAL control over marketing of chicken in Ontario, and controlling who gets allocated that chicken for processing.

AOCP is a "friend" of CFO, and seems to get preferential treatment. In turn, AOCP and its members are a source of significant chicken price inflation at the processing, distribution, and wholesale level.

Does CFO realize this, or turn a blind eye? Can CFO change its allocation rules so that the price gouging processor and further processsor gets grandfathered their chicken allocation, but gets no more additional chicken allocation. Better yet, gouging or poor quality processors chicken allocation is reduced slow & sure, until they change their dysfunctional ways.

The price and quality leaders get all the additional chicken allocation increases so that the weighted average price and quality for Ontario consumers is constantly improved.

Why doesn't CFO do this on behalf of Ontario consumers who need more affordable chicken?

Glenn Black
Small Flock Poultry Farmers of Canada

Glenn I am not sure where you are going with this since if I understand correctly , that if you were to be raising chickens you would be selling them at a higher price from your farm gate than what chicken is selling for in the stores . You can't afford to sell your chickens at below you COP and yet are looking to cash in on a niche market that needs and wants a higher price that you have stated on here several times just because of your feed cost .

You can't compete with mass production and don't need to but seem to be hung up on the SM is bad for every one because of price . Even if quota's were taken away there would always be some one willing to produce the product cheaper . Farmers work in box of being the lowest cost producer and are their own worst enemy . Farmers always are striving to race to the bottom . Trying to be the Walmart of the farm community does bode well for the farmer image but to the consumer price is king and many studies have proven this time and time again .

My parents back in the 80's used to raise chickens every year . Got close to 3000 a year . Mom used to almost live with those birds for the first few weeks . Always watching them , feeding , changing water , bedding them , picking out the sick or injured and putting them in a seperate pen . Wild life and predators was another whole problem . Imagine going to your neighbor down the road and telling them that their dog came over and killed a # of birds and would be shot dead if he stepped foot on the property again . Owls and other wild life were also a problem at times . Desease also happened . I went to Guelph different times with dead and live birds trying to get an answer as to what was wrong .

My parents could have raised half again the amount of birds . Always had a waiting list of people wanting any they could get . Then it got to be that people wanted the product but could not afford to buy a years supply all at once . Some even asked if they could get the birds and pay for them over the course of the year . They got told that if they could not pay for them they would not get any . As much as any thing it was that people didn't have the money and did not have the freezer space to keep them . Consumers at that time were getting used to the "just in time" way of life of not having to buy a supply of food and not canning any more . It was cheaper to buy it at the store when needed . It was even evident at home here as we were no longer butchering a steer and a pig every year either . Brothers and sisters were moving out , getting married , mom and dad were vacationing in florida for the winter and the meat would get old before it was used .

The consumer is always right . Even if they tell you one thing and do the opposite , they are still right !

Your freezer space reference reminded me of years ago when we got into selling some of our own fresh beef to the inlaws.They loved the "relative" discount price we were giving them but we found when delivering the meat they had no room.Its hard to fit a beef quarter (almost 175 lbs) of meat into the top freezer part of a fridge.
It was a good lesson for us.

In response to "Affordable Chicken"

Excellent post. Thanks for adding to the discussion. I hope to share what I know, and my concerns, and seek similar from others.

It seems that Canada's SM system is now designed to get the maximum possible price out of consumers. They have abandoned the traditional pricing model of COP (Cost of Production) plus a reasonable profit.

Small Flockers believe that food is an inappropriate place for cold hearted capitalism, financialization, and price gouging. Small Flockers believe in pricing at COP plus a reasonable profit. If input costs drop, those savings are properly shared with customers, not 100% taken as windfall profits by the SM system.

I have shown that Small Flockers can compete on a retail price basis with SM chicken "IF" the 300 bird limit is relaxed. I'm suggesting that 2,000 birds per year per Small Flocker is reasonable; for Small Flockers, their prospective customers, as well as protecting the investment and best interests of SM chicken farmers.

If Small Flockers are allowed to compete, or act as an alternative to SM chicken for price, quality, class (eg. free range vs. mega chicken factory), this can only be a benefit for the farmers and the consumers.

For example, in the 1950's Canada had one of the best FCR's (Feed Conversion Ratios) in the world for chicken. FCR sets 60% of the farm gate price for chicken according to CFO. Under SM Chicken's negligence or inattention for the last 50 years, Canada has steadily fallen behind the other chicken farmers of the world so that today, we cannot compete. New Zealand chicken farmers (eg. Tegal Poultry ) have an FCR of 1.38 which is 20% better than Canada's SM chicken producers. That poor FCR directly punishes Canadian consumers. SM is designed so that chicken farmers and the SM bureaucrats are 100% insulated from this poor performance, but consumers pay the full price again and again. How is that fair?

You say that price is king. If that was true, no consumer would be paying 3 to 10 times more for organic, free range, locally grown, Hong Kong style, or similar specialized chicken. There are 9 competitive factor. Price is one of the most important factors for most people, but not the only one. Unfortunately, unaffordable food is forcing people to give up on the other 8 factors, but do not fool yourself by thinking that consumers do this willingly. Consumers resent this. The frustration with SM and governments is steadily rising on this and many similar issues.

Raising chicken, if done carefully and correctly, is a big job. It can be done poorly, where the farmer, the animals, the consumer, and the industry reputation all suffer. CFO and their SM ilk should be encouraging and enforcing chicken excellence, not just the lip service and token efforts that they do today.

CSA was invented to help farmers avoid all the risk, and consumers to avoid the huge lump sum payments that wreck havoc on household budgets. More needs to be done in this area. I have suggested to our local abattoir to partner with a local appliance dealer to put a freezer into every home, then stock that freezer on a set $/month fee for good food at reasonable prices, delivered to their door (or pickup at the retail store). Innovative ideas are needed to help consumers through difficult times.

Glenn Black
Small Flock Poultry Farmers of Canada

Couple comments .

Is the maximum possible price the fault of the grower , the processor or the retailer ? Each one needs a profit but who is making the most ? Likely the feed company !

You say small flock producers can compete . Why do you want to ? You won't be able to just on volume alone . Asfar as quality , class and price , the consumer will say one thing and do the opposite when it comes to spending their dollars .

Feed conversion rates are different because of many factors . You can't just pick and choose .

Price is king . Your examples are all niche markets that get a premium price . You seem stuck on wanting to compete with the lowest bulk price when you should be filling a niche at a premium price .

As for your idea of a butcher and freezer retailer getting togther it sounds good but will it really work . You will still have to have a weekly or monthly payment plan because so many live pay check to pay check and do not have the money to put out . Some almost live on a daily budget .

For how it was here when my folks raised chickens . The price was $2.95 a lb. that was back in 1987or maybe 1988 . Today what do you think the price should be today taking in inflation and many other factors . Don't forget that you could walk out into the barn and have 100 dead chickens any time so it is not all profit . The birds my parents raised were usually 8 to 10 lbs dressed weight . I remember our biggest being 13.5 lbs . It takes a whole lot more feed to get them to that size . It is about like feeding pigs or cattle then . 10 lbs at 2.95 a lb is $29.50 a bird . Take some one who wants to eat 1 chicken that size every 2 weeks that is $767.00 a year to put out all at once . For today that should be 4.50 a lb at 10 lbs and 26 a year is almost $1200.00 . Not many people would be willing to put out that much plus buy a freezer to keep them in . Don't get me wrong I am not saying the market is not out there . I do think there are other ways to skin the cat ! You just have to be creative .

I guess I don't see why you are so bent on chasing a market that is only going to give you what every one else can get . Yes I agree that SM needs an overhaul and I can see that 300 does not make it work . Keep up your plight for change but at the same time raise your 300 birds and have actual facts and figures to show Gov why , where and how things can be improved . To just say that it can't be profitable when you are not doing is not good enough . Prove it .

I guess it would to me be like raising hogs for a full market . Build a new barn , feed pigs out of it until the barn is ready to fall down and then borrow the money to build a new one to do the same thing over again and hope you can eek out a living . Sort of really puts the old saying of the definition of insanity ; doing the same thing over and over again but hoping for a different result . If you always do what you've always done , you will always get what you have always gotten !!

I know many a farmer who are not SM who have some pretty fancy houses they live in . Many more beef and hog farmers at that so to try say it is an SM thing is wrong Wrong WRONG ! If nothing else it shows how lealous you are of they neighbor .

The report did mention that unemployment was down . That does not mean that people who were no longer on UI were getting jobs it just means that their UI had run out . Also there are more people who would rather spend their money on things like cell phones , tv's ,drugs , booze , cars , trucks and the likes and not have the money for food because they can go and cry hard times & get free food handed to them . Don't forget that Perth County is the Meth capital .

As farmers we do not need to live like cave people or second class citizens . I see more fancy cars & SUV's parked outside of the second hand stores and food banks . Many better than what I drive or could afford . You have no idea what debt or worth those farmers are carrying/have but pass judgement by driving by . If they are living with in their means what does it matter to you or any one else . Do you judge the people in town the same with their fancy houses ? Heck I even know people who have million dollar or more cottages who who bitch about their taxes . They don't seem to mind the taxes they pay on their million dollar house they live in .

Me thinks it is time for someone to maybe read the "Good Book" and start to practice what they preach or just keep their "pie hole" shut .

In Steve Thompson own words
If I am not mistaken
This series of arctiles issued by GMC IS paid by themselves and therefore refectis the veiws of the authors rather than any commercial interests
Read this more than once and think about it
Mr Thompson is not sure
Might be mistaken
Yet everyone is to take as gospel GMC AS THE ONLY SOURCE for back up for Steve in being right all the time every time
Suggest GMC spending there own dime is rather subjective to say the least
Whose dime r they really spending?
just asking, looking for another customer and a paycheck?
Just asking a couple of?
Not saying anything is wrong but seems Steve is hedging his bets
Larry Lynn

It would appear Mr. Lynn is still somewhat crotchety because the George Morris Centre (GMC) has never supported ethanol, and is venting his frustration by coming up with all sorts of "shoot the messenger" arguments to deny the GMC, and/or any employee thereof, credibility about anything.

If I understand Mr. Lynn's "logic" correctly:

(1) any time the GMC produces a report for anyone except the Grain Farmers of Ontario, especially a report slamming ethanol, the GMC is effectively prostituting themselves to that client.
(2) any time the GMC produces a report by themselves, especially a report slamming ethanol, the GMC is still offering to prostitute themselves, but doesn't yet have a client.

In addition, if the GMC had produced this series of reports for a paying client, that client's name would normally be well-promoted. However, I haven't seen any evidence of there being any client, and presume there is none - therefore I quite-properly expressed my caution, as would, and should, anyone.

More to the point, however, Mr. Lynn is, in effect, throwing the baby out with the bath water, solely because the author of this series of reports happens to be associated with the George Morris Centre - or, in effect, assigning guilt by association.

However, when it comes to paying for sordid reports, and just-plain duplicity, nothing beats the efforts of the Grain Farmers of Ontario who, several years ago, paid a consultant to come up with a study claiming that since the adjusted basis for corn hadn't changed since ethanol came to Ontario, then ethanol hadn't harmed livestock feeders - the fatal flaw in this report, as I pointed out to the GFO, was that if ethanol hadn't harmed livestock feeders, then it hadn't helped grain farmers either. The report promptly disappeared from sight, but it was still, nonetheless, a tragic waste of my check-off fees, and a vivid demonstration that when it comes to honesty among consultants (and clients), the George Morris Centre is, if nothing else, easily the best of what sometimes appears to be a bad lot.

Stephen Thompson, Clinton ON

The simple fact is there can be no denial that according to the Valco Consultants study, "livestock farmers and SM" are both guilty of bidding up the price of land.
The optics of this "livestock farmers and SM bidding up the price of land" absolutely obliterates the portrayal of livestock farmers as poverty stricken or hard done by. In my area livestock farmers are buying up just as many if not more farms than SM. Lots of shinny new green paint in both cases also.

Mr Thompson
It is you suggesting in the above about GMC and authors and and commercial interests and possible results or opions on who pays the tab
If you are sugesting authors are doing this with out being paid
Please provide proof of that
What I suggested is GMC pays those on staff
How they raise dollars and pay there bills comes from many sources
Lots of dollars has come from different sectors of ag who may not always agree every time with the results of studies and papers written
IF you have proof of anyone burying a report, this would be the time to bring it foward and back it up with more than trust me
No where did I mention ethonal
Again no matter to Mr Thompson its all a conspiracy
The sign of a weak argument is name calling and redirection which Mr Thompson has a masters degree in
Time for another circle run again from Mr Thompson
Larry Lynn

Someone in Mr. Lynn's position with the Grain Farmers of Ontario (GFO) should be able to get easy access to their research report prepared by, if I recall correctly, Victor Aideyan, in either 2009 or 2010, and which concluded that since the adjusted basis for corn hadn't increased since ethanol came to Ontario, then ethanol hadn't adversely affected livestock feeders. Someone in Mr. Lynn's position should also be able to find out how much Aideyan was paid to waste my check-off money on this travesty of a report, and I'd be delighted if Mr. Lynn could, and would, and then report that amount on this site.

When a summary of this report appeared in the GFO magazine, I immediately contacted the GFO to point out the fundamental flaw in the report which was that if a "no change in basis" meant that ethanol hadn't harmed livestock feeders, then the same argument could be used to claim that ethanol hadn't helped grain farmers. I also strongly objected to my check-off fees being used to finance this type of partisan and inherently one-sided report.

Within about a week of sending my letter, I was unable to find this report on the GFO website, and still can't find it today - I'm not saying it's not there, but I am saying if the report was any good, it would be abundantly-easy to find, and I can't -all the more reason for me to believe GFO squandered my check-off money.

I am unable to come to any other conclusion than that the GFO quickly, quietly, and permanently, buried this report once I pointed out the inherent flaws in it - if I am wrong in any way, shape, or form, I'd be delighted to be proven thusly.

To return to Mr. Lynn's original point, I suggest that I, quite-unwillingly, and in hindsight, quite-indignantly, helped pay Aideyan to produce a clunker of a report for the GFO, but that Mussell's recent efforts are, in effect, being paid entirely because of the generosity of the late George Morris.

In closing, why does Mr. Lynn seem to think the GFO is incapable of engaging in conspiracies, but sees conspiracies all-over-the-place when Al Mussell produces a report which quite-obviously reflects his opinions, and by association, the opinions of the George Morris Centre alone?

Stephen Thompson, Clinton Ont.

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