Farm income drops to staggering lows

From the Western Producer paper, May 6 2010

Farm income predictions grim

Projections 91 percent below 2009

The 2010 farm income projections are devastating.
Agriculture Canada released them with little fanfare in late April, which is later than normal.
A sector that will produce $41.6 billion in farmgate receipts this year will return $291.5 million to farmers in realized net income after depreciation. It is a 91 percent reduction from 2009 levels.
Several provinces will be in deficit, including Ontario and Alberta.
The hog and cattle sectors will be hit particularly hard, according to the numbers prepared by and agreed to by federal and provincial officials.
The forecast projects a 12 percent increase in program payments to $3.76 billion despite an Agriculture Canada longer-term projection of a sharp decline in government support over the next three years.
National and provincial leaders affiliated with the Canadian Federation of Agriculture called the numbers a clear signal that federal programs are not working.
“The government’s own forecasts show deep losses for many commodities and highlight that the business risk management programs currently in place were not designed to function with today’s unique set of economic circumstances,” CFA president Laurent Pellerin said in a statement.
“While we appreciate the government’s commitment to fostering a long-term industry strategy, it’s very clear that farmers need additional support to get through the short-term.”
The annual farm income forecast, typically published in February and often with Agriculture Canada officials available for comment, was released without notice in late April after farm groups raised the alarm, notably the Ontario Federation of Agriculture.
In addition to its usual recitation of projections and analysis, the report this year also contained some government spin.
For example, the analysis touts the government effort to alleviate livestock sector woes.
“Significant steps have been taken to help Canada’s agriculture industry recover and renew,” said commentary accompanying the income projections.
“Governments continue to work with industry to support those sectors in difficulty and to increase market opportunities for Canadian producers.”
The commentary also noted that farm family income is projected to increase because of higher off-farm income, and that farm asset values are projected to increase more than the growing debt load, despite low income.
Still, the outlook predicts that net operating income on average hog farms will fall from more than $45,000 in 2009 to $1,719 in 2010.
Some provincial farm income projections are particularly dire.
In Alberta, realized net farm income is projected to fall from $335 million in 2009 to more than a $500 million loss in 2010.
In Manitoba, realized net farm income will fall 57 percent to $233 million, said the projection.
Ontario farmers, with cash receipts of $9.2 billion, are projected to lose almost $460 million this year.
Grain and oilseed dependent Saskatchewan, while showing a projected realized net income of almost $1 billion, will be 55 percent less than last year.
Note from April Reeves: I’m going to give a little history lesson , because history doesn’t repeat itself: people repeat history.
“A panel recommended that rural centers be wiped out, reasoning that they cost too much in infrastructure.”
In Russian, before the 1950’s, Stalin was in power. He wanted to see state run agriculture, so he abolished all the small farms (much like the ALR grab in BC) and the entire country went into state mass production. How did he get rid of the farmers that didn’t want to give up their lands? He shot them.
I’m not kidding.
Did mass agriculture work? No, and they began to witness those results less than a decade after. Today, few people know, really know, how to grow a tomato in Russia. When you eliminate family farms, you eliminate thousands of years of information for survival. As our aging farmers die off, so will the knowledge.
Can mass agriculture work? Apparently, by the post above, it’s failing. What we need to realize,  visualize and feel is how that looks to have only mass corporate farms. Only by looking into the future can we put a halt to this before we make serious mistakes with our kids futures.
The price for the food has gone down, while the cost of producing that food has increased dramatically. The only way for factory farms to survive is to wipe out all small farms and accumulate massive chunks of land and control pricing – read as “pass it on to the consumer”. So your food choices and prices will all be under a single umbrella, and you will have no control over it. No control over pricing. No control over what you eat (GMO). No control over choices.
Large mass farming practices do uncontrollable damage to the land. Their methods of pesticide use accumulate in soils, air and land, destroying nutrients in the plants and polluting our environment. Monocrops, a term meaning single crop, will no longer need the windbreaks and sheltered areas that good farm practices use. They will be open and exposed to wind and soil erosion.
Factory farms for pigs and other livestock pose even bigger threats. Single diseases could wipe out entire populations, leaving markets to look elsewhere. The pollution, while being a detriment right now, could have benefits (1), but that costs money and decreases shareholder value. So manure waste continues to pollute and build up dangerous phosphorus levels. Soon though, the Enviropig, a genetically modified pig will be able to alleviate this problem (while potentially creating a whole new one, but not a problem: remember shareholder value). And what about the pigs? Having 100,000 pigs in the same cold, concrete structure can only be a recipe for abuse.
Could we end up like Russia? If we do nothing, yes, minus the firing squads. While we may sit back and wait for inevitable forces to take this madness away, like the loss of the honey bee (2), oil depletion and rising oil costs, our lands will be destroyed and our heritage crops and traditions gone.
Funny how something so small can have so much power.
Once gone, we don’t get them back. This is a time of “do or die”. We have to make some big changes before government politics, burdensome legislation and TNC’s take it away forever. I’m not being mean: I’m just keeping it real.
People are waking up to these issues and facts. In 2004, a Canadian government report was published, recommending that rural centers be wiped out. They stated that they cost way too much for infrastructure, and are “in the way”.  All small farms should be cut off from any kind of tax support, while big corporate farms get all the breaks (much like they do today). Imagine being considered a waste of space? But that’s our Canadian government: driving small farmers out of business. I can only imagine the uproar and backlash that is going to create.
We have nothing in place to help new farmers or small farmers. Until the urban dwellers get this, and I mean really “get” this, little will change, and Monsanto and “friends” will have their way. Only then, when prices go up, disease rates go up and choices are cut in half will city dwellers understand the implications of sitting idle today.
We can’t sit quietly anymore. Get involved: support local agriculture. The US is about to disappear into mass farming that has the potential to take their entire nation out.
What concerns me about the Canadian policies that are currently not working is that this gives a green light to big agriculture stepping in. But farmers are beginning to become dismayed with large farms. Many are thinking about leaving the mono and GM crops. The costs involved, the control over their farms, the superweeds and resistant bugs that will only get worse are making farmers question this new technology. They also realize that it’s not a good way to encourage new young people to get into farming. The risks are beginning to outweigh the rewards.
And in marketing, that’s a recipe for extinction.
We are racing ahead with farming technology that we haven’t had the luxury of time to discover the flaws. Mother Nature has been put on “fast forward”. No longer do “grassroots observations” have a place in a world that industry has ultimate rule. Instead, agriculture is now an exercise of lobbying and boardrooms, adjusted to never conflict with corporate interests that tolerate zero deviation.
Those of us opposed to it and desire a traditional method of living and growing are considered the new “heretics” and “fear mongers”, and those that can see beyond the borders of dysfunctional paradigms are now having their conclusions vanquished in the courts.
Our day will come.
1. Factory farms could produce phosphorus as a side business, since we are in need of phosphorus. Their answer to the pollution problem is to produce a genetically modified pig that poops less phosphorus. Once again, knowledge is way ahead of wisdom.
2. One savior on the line right now could be the honey bee: hopefully someone finds a connection to why they are dying, and do it fast. The loss of the bee is the loss of human, plant and animal life. Should mass farming have a connection, it could change policy – unless our governments truly are that corrupt, in which case we will all know.

One response to “Farm income drops to staggering lows

  1. Its disgusting the way things are being done. I see those “Farmers feed cities” posters all the time, but I guess the big-wigs don`t care about that. I have 4 kids to think about & becoming a farmer seemed like a great idea, but now, I`m not so sure. Put all my money & time into it to get started, & for what end? Never make a profit & have it all taken away by the biggies who couldn`t care less? Really nice….

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