Why I Moved My Dairy Farm to the U.S – Ian Cumming

“Those dairy farmers print money!” That’s what a friend of mine says every time the subject of dairy farms comes up. Drive down many roads in Canada and it’s easy to see how that perception was born. Huge brand new facilities, multi-site operations with finely manicured yards and milking parlors with nicer tile most people’s bathrooms, but that’s hardly a snapshot of the entire industry. There are more modest operations across Canada and it’s not a cheap or easy system to get into. But it does have a measure of stability that other areas of agriculture don’t.( Hogs anyone? ) A big part of that is due to the Canadian quota system, which isn’t without its detractors either.

There are some farmers that feel that a lack of competition is hurting us on an international and domestic level. There is a feeling that the stability we enjoy also makes us stagnant, less competitive internationally and is actually shrinking our production base. So why not just pick up and move to a semi- open market system? That’s not without its problems either. Too much competition coupled with high commodity prices in a fluctuating market can make for tight margins and a loss of stability right?

Dairy farmer and Ontario Farmer columnist Ian Cumming moved his operation from Ontario to New York State to remove himself from the Canadian quota system. We caught up with him at the March series of the Tiffin Conference in Lethbridge, Alberta. We talked about where the dairy industry is, where it’s going and why he moved in the first place.

If you cannot see the embedded video below click here.

 

Shaun Haney

Shaun grew up on a family seed farm in Southern Alberta. Haney Farms produces, conditions and retails wheat, barley, canola and corn seed. Shaun Haney is the founder of RealAgriculture.com. @shaunhaney

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5 Comments

Peter

Great interview – thought provoking. An element that Ian does not address is the inflationary pressure that supply managed operations have on land values. George Brinkman has talked about this. Quota and land values are the two primary reasons why Cdn ag is so deep in debt compared to the U.S. I see the pros and cons of supply management, but one thing it hasn’t done is perpetuate the smaller scaled so-called “family farm”. In my area of sw ont, all the small guys have sold out – quota value simply too high to ignore. Most of that pseudo-wealth built over 30 or 40 years of quota appreciation leaves agriculture in a mega golden handshake to dairy producers as they exit. No different than cash croppers cashing in when developers come knocking on the door. Not here to judge – just to comment on the incredible capital flow going into and out of Cdn ag. We may see a day when most of the inflow will come from new sources that truly see the big picture. China?

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Steve

Ian has always been a maverick in his OF column. Closer to home we had a dairy farm sell for close to $14,000/acre, about double current FMV. Guess thats what happens when quota is capped at $25K…the ‘real’ value get capitalized into the land. Now neighbours have to contend with inflated MPAC values and ‘hope’ that mill rates adjust accordingly. Lately, the vast majority of land has been bought by established dairy farmers….so maybe the opening comment in the story above isn’t too far off the mark!!

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Dean

As a non-supply managed farmer I always though that every province got a percentage of quota basised on population. Nothing has to be exact but Quebec has 23% population but 40% quota. That is not even trying to be fair. As a western Canadian farmer or even consumer or worker looking for jobs in our home province, it is these days that need to be remembered in elections. If it is weeakness in MP’s to be fair in one issue you know then there are more unfairness in other issues. Everyday being a Canadian is being eroded.

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