I was driving home tonight thinking about some of the most interesting people that we have interviewed since the RealAgriculture.com started in the fall of 2008. One of the first people that popped into my head was Ian Cummings. Ian is a dairy farmer that moved his dairy farm to the US to avoid the restrictive quota system in Canada. How bizarre is that when you think about your perception of Canadian dairymen having a license to print money. Due to the steady cash flow of the quota system, many Canadian farmers are very jealous of the quota system and the economic stability that it provides. Owning a dairy is an everyday commitment that is like no other in agriculture. I really do respect anyone that will get up at 4 AM everyday, 365 days a year to get the job done. But Iam left all this behind and moved to a less economically stable industry in the US…..

What also made me think of Ian is the irony of his decision and how it relates to the Canadian Wheat Board losing it’s single desk. Ian wanted the opportunity to expand, sell his own milk and compete in an environment that rewards efficiency and productivity. Ian believes in an open market. Ian states in the interview that the quota system in Quebec is like religion and even though dairy product consumption in Canada is much lower than in the US there doesn’t seem to be the political appetite for change. It would be interesting to see if the Conservative’s will try and tackle milk quota after they finish reforming the Canadian Wheat Board’s single desk model. The major advantage that the quota system in Canada has is that it is extracting a major premium from the market which you witness everytime you compare dairy product prices in the Canada to the US. Has there been Western Canadian farmers that have sold their Canadian farms and moved south of the border to try and tackle the open market. If the single desk stayed and you felt very strongly about the ability to market your grain, would you ever consider buying a farm in North Dakota or Montana? Well Ian Cummings did.

This video has been viewed over 2000 times since March and I continue to get emails from people all over the world in regards to Ian’s very controversial thoughts in the interview. Please let me know what you think about what Ian Cummings says…..

If you cannot see the embedded video below, click here

9 thoughts on “The Irony of Ian Cummings Leaving the Quota System in Canada Behind

  1. Ian’s 100% right financially and philosophically. Liquidated quota cash is being pumped into cash crop operations (land& equipment), skewing the economics there, and is being replaced with a huge debt bubble. When the system is scrapped, the owners of that debt will be squealing for a bailout package, even though the Canadian dairy consumer has already paid the bill – and then some. It’s like a festering wound. Tear the bandage (tariffs) off, cut away the rotten flesh (bureaucracy) and let it heal in the open air (international competition).

  2. Not irony, hypocrisy. Ian didn’t leave “all this behind and moved to a less economically stable industry in the US…..” He sold his quota at a healthy profit and loaned the money to his son to dairy in the U.S. Ian, however remains living in Canada taking advantage of our health care for himself and his adopted kids from China plus Canada’s more generous social programs, education system, retirement eligibility etc. because Ian is still Canadian. His son is sending home healthy loan payments for now and Ian is living on those proceeds. Ian’s son is in the U.S. on an investors visa and can only remain there as long as he provides three jobs for Americans. HE is the one taking the risk I wish him good luck.

  3. George,
    So, unless I own a dairy quota in Canada, I am cheating the healthcare and social programs out of money? Because that is the only line of reasoning that I can pull out of your post!

    I guess I am as “bad” as Ian then, except I never started with any quota at all!

  4. Not sure who George is. Unless its that trained George from DFO of tribunal fame?
    I, Ian Cumming am a majority shareholder in Glengarry Farms LLC, which owns the U.S. farm. I have “loaned” my son nothing, he is my minority partner in the operation and cannot, under an E2 visa, become the majority shareholder until a decade from now.
    I take $2,000 a month out of the operation ($1,000 each milk cheque) put into a U.S. account by direct deposit which is one quarter of the money my wife and I make from other contracts and professions. Writing for Ontario Farmer, government contracts, setting Codes of practice, speechs etc.
    We have been there for 16 months and touched that U.S. account six times, so no, I’m not living off the “payments.”
    We did invest in extra land, tiled it, and according to a lawyer over there – Nathan Race – it’s doubled from the $722 an acre we paid to $1,500 for untiled land in one year.
    Our Canadian income is to increase another $8,000 to $10,000 a month over the next half year due to an upcoming contract I’m starting.
    We had over the years made $896,000 in quota payments for priciple and interest and got $1.5 million for it when selling. Land was by far the better increase.
    Sorry George, but those are the facts. Come and visit us sometime. Some more facts.
    Health care is a wash, with the lower taxes across the board there.
    I and my son will compare our farms cash flow with any Canadian farmer putting in the same total dollars for investment.
    We moved our operation 23 miles as the crow flies.
    We have one daughter from China, the other from Ethiopia. Something wrong with that George?

  5. One other clarification for George. we do not have three employees, nor are required to have three. Having that many men milking 150 cows would cause you to go broke, plus have not much to do.
    We have one full time man, for five days a week, plus another who comes in for the late 3X milking for two hours.
    I work there about four days a week, leaving home in Canada at 3 am and in the parlour at 4 am. Plus am in phone cantact with my son every day that I’m not there. The big decisions we make together, the day to day ones are his. His youth and energy is the thrust – as it should be.
    I, contary to what you wrote, am not avoiding the U.S. in any way. It’s different, very different.
    But moving your milk cows 23 miles from home, to help set your son up in a better situation of far less debt and risk, is something most fathers would do. You would think they wouldn’t be attacked for doing so.

  6. I’am a retired dairy farmer started in 1972 when Quota started,I borrowed as much money i could to buy Quota with the vision of what it could do for my net profit, but after 35yrs and no one to take over I knew that no young farmer could buy my farm with price of Quota, the P/E on dairy farms are the same what nortel was, or the buyer would need 50% down, not going to had, so we sold the Quota, had a sale and sold the land to 2 young farmer with there future vision, How do you sell Quota to a son that will be worth 0 in the future, all of EU no longer have Quota and thats where Quota started. On June the 7 i visited Mac and Ian in the USA this is virgin area with a great future, we visited one farm milking 1400 cows,and another 2500 cow with a 80 cow milking area, I my hat go off the Ian and Mac for there vision of the future. On June 7 i spend so time with Mac (25yrs old with his drive just like i was when i was 25, and I wish him well, There is on thing that is missing , Mac need a wife, Thank you Denis ST Pierre

  7. Ian dont dare defend your self to the Quota worshiper morons. It is a very flawed system that does nothing but create un self sufficient fiscal hazards. I had the chance to milk cows at 16 but decided I was a hockey star. When that didnt turn out I wanted to milk cows but quota was 35,000 per kg by then, it made absolutley no sense to go back and borrow against a fifth generation farm that has been bought and paid for forever. So I entered the hay business and show cattle just because im a moron and like dairy cattle still. I now pack up my crew every summer and head west to Alberta to bale and harvest 35,000 acres of alfalfa hay that goes to the US and even back here to Ontario. The Ontario forage board now labels me as bad person because I bring hay from somewhere else that out performs theirs and at a cheaper cost which is more efficient. Its the same thing these guys arent intelectually sharp enough to do anything on their own or venture out. They just want to suck off the government propped up tit and have it good.

    If quota ended next week they would all be bankrupt in 6 months. The only thing quota has done is let small 100 acre tie stall farms stay in exitence. We need those for cow genetics. But it is screwing up the whole system for land values and equipment in Ontari and most of Canada . ANyway I am way off topic, just bottom line keep growing and keep pushing the stop of quota in the Ontario Farmer we need it.

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