9, 2003: Food retailers have started redesigning
our food system in response to what they believe consumers
want and for what they think consumers will pay.
They are big enough, AND concentrated enough, to have their
- McDonald's wants the eggs they serve to be laid by hens
with more square inches of living space per bird in the
poultry cages that dominate North American egg production.
- Better Beef, the Guelph-based business that slaughters
90 percent of Ontario's cattle, accepts regular audits by
Wendy's of burger fame. It is part of their contract to
supply Wendy's burger patties right across Canada.The audit
starts with the condition of the cattle as they arrive by
from farms across the province.The review examines every
step in the process plant to the patties being loaded on
trucks for shipment. Better Beef is meeting standards above
and beyond that required by the Canadian
Food Inspection Agency. It makes one wonder if Wendy's will
next want toaudit the farms that provide the cattle.
- Many of Ontario's farm commodities have launched quality
assurance programs and identification systems. Poultry is
adopting HACCP - Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points.
Pork has developed CQA - Canadian Quality Assurance. Wine
makers have been at the leading edge with VQA - Vintner's
Quality Assurance. All of these are standardized management
systems designed to allow retailers the ability to deliver
a consistent, quality product to consumers.
Most of these developments benefit our food system. We are
producing better and safer food.
But there is a cost for family farmers. These standardizations,
driven by the interests of a few retailers, are turning the
food chain into a managed system—managed by the concentrated
market clout of retailers. There is no guarantee that extra
on-farm costs can be recovered from this managed marketplace.
Primary food production in Ontario, the growing and raising
of the raw food stuffs, that are eventually transformed into
those choice products crowding superstore shelves, remains
almost exclusively in the hands of family farmers. But the
emerging structure of the food chain is taking more and more
of the decision making out of the hands of farm entrepreneurs.
The structure of the food chain is becoming less and less
friendly to the family farm. A managed food chain—a
top-down managed food chain—is replacing the traditional
food system where family farmers harvest creation's abundance
and deliver nature's bounty to competitive markets.
This is one of the primary reasons why the Christian Farmers
Federation is proposing a new vision for Ontario agriculture—one
that includes family farmers in the design and control of
the emerging managed food chain .
For more on the myths about hunger and the Canadian Foodgrains
Bank, a Christian response to hunger visit
- April 3, 2003: Farmer
nominees for the Rural Red Tape Reduction Project
- March 28, 2003: Farm
- March 21, 2003: Myths
- March 7, 2003: Europe
Gets Innovative about Farm Subsidies
- February 21, 2003: Seven
ideas for Strong Rural Communities
- February 7, 2003: An
Action Plan for a Fresh Vision for Agriculture
- January 3, 2003: 2002
ag policy changes to have big impact in 2003
- December 13, 2002: Farmers
know ag’s “multiple-benefits”, but wonder
how to make them profitable
November 5, 2002: Intervening
in farm markets for the public good
- October 25, 2002: Standing
up to commodity agriculture
- September, 2002: Wishes
and dreams for Ontario agriculture
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