I always enjoy reading Dr. Rothenburger’s articles and respect her opinions.
However, I do challenge some of her assumptions commenting on supply management and animal welfare (WP Nov. 5 , 2015).
As one who has moved through the continuum of a family owner operated farm, through to employee run and managed pork production farms, there is no doubt which system provides better and more consistent animal welfare and economic sustainability.
There are many reasons why single family owned and operated farms have become a rarity, a few of which are listed below.
With farms no longer dependent on owner-operators, more organized management structures are necessary, processes like standard operating procedures and accountability for behavior and measurable results become the norm. These are processes that happen with working with a team, that is, larger systems employing/partnering with more than a one family.
People working 24/7 is not good for consistency nor attention to detail — something the “traditional family farm” needs to do if they have livestock. That would not be considered acceptable in other livelihoods and to expect those producing our food should live like that is wrong on many fronts. Being part of a team has the added benefit that when a person is absent or makes an error, there is another person covering for them.
The supply management system is very costly for consumers (and) has resulted in a high-priced right to produce quotas with no mechanism for the next generation entering. That the equity value is tied to the right to produce, not to the animal/bird or physical overhead, is unsustainable.
The dairy industry is only now looking at a compulsory code of practice to be introduced is odd,. The pig industry, which has always operated in the open market, has already done so.
The media often uses the term “family farm,” with little definition of what that means. For many reasons — from a worker’s lifestyle, financial sustainability and much more — we need to think of “farm families.” This is where families can enjoy the benefits of teamwork, security of income and modern technology, while they enjoy the opportunity to farm and produce our food.
That a portion of the consumer’s dollar is allocated to industry infrastructure is standard for all commodities, including those produced and sold on the open market. In most cases, part of those funds are used for product improvement and market development. With a government guaranteed monopoly there is little incentive to do either.
As an example, in the 1960s I worked in a dairy in Tanzania, a country with very few resources, yet 50 years ago farmers there implemented a test and slaughter program for Johne’s disease. Something that has yet to happen in Canada.
Lastly, if opening 3.25 percent of the domestic market to competition can be considered a threat, that has to mean supply managed systems are already about to collapse. Perhaps, like the Canadian wine industry with the North American Free Trade Agreement, a bit more competition resulted in a good thing.
Besides, to prevent the rest of Canada from trading with 40 percent of the world in order to protect such a small amount of Canadian milk would be remarkably self-serving.
Mischa Popoff is dead wrong when he says there has been “peaceful coexistence” between GM and organics (“Stop the GM controversy in organics,” WP, Nov. 15).
I am an organic grain farmer in Saskatchewan who, like many others, had to stop growing canola because of GM contamination.
Saskatchewan organic farmers tried to seek compensation for this loss but were unable to get their class action lawsuit certified.
Until the proponents of GM find a way to control their technology, we know that coexistence is not possible for any crops. This is why GM alfalfa should never be introduced in western Canada.
Chair, Organic Agriculture