For some reason there has been some significant discussion on Twitter lately amongst different farmers regarding the suggested negative impact that Hutterite Colonies have on agriculture.
For some its easy to pick on Hutterites. They dress differently than you and I. Hutterites live a lifestyle that is not appealing for many. Once you get past the shallow obvious differences, one needs to really try to get informed on some of the positives that colonies bring to our industry.
Many colonies are stable positive contributors to their local communities. I can definitely tell you from my experience at Haney Farms that there are great farming colonies and there are some that are not as good. This is no different than many of our other farming customers.
To suggest that Hutterite colonies are destroying the traditional family farm is ridiculous To suggest that colonies are panicking without the Canadian Wheat Board is just being uninformed. Lamenting that that there is advantages to colony life that make it impossible to compete with them is an over statement.
Do colonies have human resource advantages? Yes. Are some colonies very aggressive in their acre growth aspirations? Yes. Are some colonies now sending members to College and University? Yes.
Many non-colony farmers have just as much a human resource advantages with the whole family working on the farm. It is always easier for family members to draw less income to help the farm through a tight financial period. This is where large corporate farms actually have a disadvantage.
With commodity prices rising over the past decade, land values and the competition amongst farmers is going to naturally increase. Many farmers don’t care for their colony neighbours because they create competition for land. One of the major changes with rising commodity prices is that colonies and large farms are expanding outside of their traditional areas. Lethbridge farmers seeding in Vulcan, or Red Deer farmers seeding in Yorkton is a new reality of agriculture. Its not just colonies that are aggressively trying to expand.
Farming is a competitive business and with high commodity prices the competition for land is only going to increase from colonies, European immigrants and already large Canadian farms. When an industry is profitable it attracts investment internally and externally. Just one more thing to deal with as your own farm profit rises.
Are Hutterites perfect? No. Is anyone perfect? No Should we be more tolerant of other cultures and people in general? Always