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July/August 2010 – Fractionalization! What fractionalization?

Several times in the last few months I have heard about fractionalization in the Canadian farm community. If I understand the issue correctly, fractionalization means there are too many competing interest groups, provincial boards and regional organizations to keep agriculture from presenting a unified front.
What nonsense.
I can assure you that Canadian farmers are united in their efforts to produce good food, steward the land, and make farms viable. From coast to coast, we work, speak and produce as one. The only exception I might make—and I emphasize it is the only exception—are the farmers represented by the marketing boards. Maybe I am just jealous of all the new tractors they can afford, but it seems to me a horribly unfair advantage over the rest of us to be able to focus on farming and not the wretched marketing. What’s worse, every time I buy milk or eggs or chicken I’m making a payment on their new equipment! No, the quota farmers stand apart from us regular farmers.
But, as I say, that’s the only exception. Otherwise, farmers across the country face the same issues, the same challenges.
Fractionalization: ha! . . .
Come to think of it, I could be persuaded to make another exception. Organic farmers bug me. They whine above their weight, make the rest of us want to hide our sprayers behind the barn, and seem to have the buying public on a string. They have everyone wanting organic. What’s next? Organic bullets? No, organic farmers are definitely different. With those two exceptions, however, Canadian farmers are unified.
. . .
Okay, truth be told, I don’t really feel kin to large-scale producers of any sort, either. I mean, big ag has increasingly come to mean looking for a big handout. A lot of people make fun of us little farmers, but I say we are the only non-subsidy farms in Canada. I don’t have much in common with a fellow in Saskatchewan who needs a 10 acre field just to turn his air seeder around. Have those farmers ever walked their fields, ever touched the earth?
And while we are at it, let’s call a spade a spade and say what horse farms are: tax evasions! Putting them in the same category as a productive farm is like saying a negligee and overalls are both forms of protective clothing. Yeah, right. I guess I’d have to say something similar about agri-tourism. What have U-pick ice cream and corn mazes got to do with real farming?
Real farmers drive strangers off with a pitchfork, not welcome them in a clown outfit. I don’t want to be in an organization that counts any of these people as members. I’m in solidarity with real, food-producing small farms from coast to coast—though I have to say that the kind of small producers who live close to Toronto, Winnipeg and Calgary and cater to rich people with pastured Berkshire pork and holistically-massaged, lavenderinfused free range chickens and God knows what kind of bother me too. You have to take out a loan just to buy a pork chop. That’s just serving the fantasies of the rich.
I’m not so keen on fibre farms, goats or crazy niche products either. In all honesty I wouldn’t care to sit beside these folks at a farm meeting. Otherwise, I see eye to eye with farmers across the country.
Fractionalization: ha!