Little promise in the
Canadian Agricultural Income Stabilisation Programme

Waldron - Monday, March 1, 2004 - by:George Hickie


After Reviewing the Canadian Agricultural Income Stabilisation programme, it is clear to me that it will do little to assist the farming community in the long run. The initial farmer rallies and sit-ins were organized to demonstrate the low prices farmers were receiving for their products. The Canadian Agricultural Income Stabilisation programme only ensures depressed incomes as they are based on five year historical values.




The numerous rallies and meetings I attended always had a component of cost of production associated with the discussions surrounding new programme development. Unlike grain/oilseeds commodities whose relative value has fallen over time, the cost of inputs to grow these crops has steadily increased over time!




For example I compared some of my input and machinery costs from the 1950's to the present time. The numbers are sobering! A gallon of gas in the 50's was $0.20/gal, now it is $2.70/gal, and a gallon of diesel was $0.16/gal. and now it is $2.07 gallon!



> 1000%

I purchased a new tractor in the 50's for approximately $73/horse power, now tractors run approximately $850.00/horse power! Sure, they have more features, but farmers are still buying horsepower. Land taxes in the 50's were approximately $80/quarter, now they are approximately $800/quarter. When I look at my revenue, the increases are not there. Wheat was approximately $1.60 in the 50's and now we will be lucky to obtain $3.00/bushel. When I first grew canola over 20 years ago, I received $3.50 a bushel, and now I only received $7.50.



cost x 10
x 2

It is easy to see that input costs have increased over ten times, while revenues have only doubled! For anyone to say farmers are not efficient or have not adapted to change clearly shows they have no understanding of the issue. Although farmers have done all the right things the one thing that has been omitted or taken away from them is the ability to determine their margin of profit. Everyone else's margin has increased and the farmer's shares has continually decreased. This has happened because of government policy and the inability of farmers to determine what the margins should be. As it is now, the farmer willing to sell first determines the price, the lowest price!




It is ironic that food freedom day occurs in early February, the day when the average working family has amassed enough money to pay their food bill for a year. While the farmers share of that bill was paid within the first week of January. If family farms are to succeed, there must be a shift in the margins to ensure that farmers receive a fair return for their work. This requires strong-united and focused leadership in the farm community and government policy that understands the importance and benefits of non-factory food production. These two things are something that farmers have not seen for a long while.

George Hickie


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