What Bothers Cash Croppers About Supply Management

I hear and understand some of the issues that consumers have with the supply management structure.  I do at times struggle with other farmers criticizing the supply management structure and saying that “it has to go.”  Why would a member of the farmer brethren, a fellow peer, a guy that farms right beside a dairy farmer say such a thing?

I asked some cash croppers this week in Southern Alberta and in Ontario and it usually comes down to one real reason……the ability to buy land.  Many cash croppers from across the country believe that because dairy and chicken farmers have economic certainty they have the advantage in bidding up land in comparison to cash croppers.  Taking it farther they believe that the government is indirectly subsidizing certain types of farmers to buy land over others.

With the price of soybeans, corn and canola right now cash croppers are not starving to death but the feeling is that these prices are not guaranteed to be reality forever or even next week.  Supply management farmers have a very good idea that the spread between their cost of production and the price they get for their product will be maintained.  Due to this lack of volatility on the gross margin spread, banks are more willing to lend money for land.


In Southern Alberta in the late nineties feedyards were the ones scooping up all the land.  The cattle feeding industry was economically strong and there were incentives for rapid expansion of the industry.  Cash croppers couldn’t even touch some of the prices being paid for irrigated land.  Ironically, now some of those same feed yards have sold land to the cash croppers as the cattle feeding industry has significantly weakened economically.

Is the attitude towards supply managementby cash croppers just jealously, sour grapes, or reality?  Do dairy farmers have what feedyards, ranchers and cash croppers really desire?  As a cash cropper do you really lose land deals to dairy farmers because of the quota?  Is this whole thing overblown and in reality the farmer brethren needs to stick together a little bit more in the face of urban sprawl and lack of understanding of agriculture by the urbanite?  Lots of questions, not many answers…….

2 thoughts on “What Bothers Cash Croppers About Supply Management

  1. Farmers need to stick together. I still recall in the mid 1990’s pig farmers outbidding everyone, locally, for land only to have the government bail out some of the larger operations in 2006-2009. Each sector has it’s success and failure in their own way. It all goes back to the quote from many years ago – “Together we stand, Divided we fall” or one of the original forms – “By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall” (John Dickenson July 1768)
    If farmers keep dividing each other in the public eye, we will all fail.

  2. I do know from my personal banker who used to work with dariy farmers tell me that it was a no brainer, Didn’t matter what the dairy farmer wanted to pay for the land the loan was approved, not at all as easy or fast with me as a grain and cattle farmer. In his view that was the view for supply management industry, bankers are going to get their interest so prices on land no matter what the cost was always just afided. My cousin bought a sprayer from two brothers, 5000 acres cattle and who also own and run some service rigs in the oil patch and have oil wells on their land that they can’t compete on some land that came up for sale. The dairy farmer down the road couldn’t be stopped at any price. Its funny when I hear news that fuel prices are going higher and people yell they are being gouged yet supply managed industry can out bid the oil patch for land. If the consumer only knew the whole truth.

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