Family farm replaced by mechanization of profits

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Each year the United Nations (UN) declares a special concern for some significant international issue; 2008 was the International Year of Planet Earth and 2011 was the International Year of Youth. This year is the International Year of Family Farming. The      declaration is aimed at both developing and developed countries.

Each year the United Nations (UN) declares a special concern for some significant international issue; 2008 was the International Year of Planet Earth and 2011 was the International Year of Youth. This year is the International Year of Family Farming. The      declaration is aimed at both developing and developed countries. The UN sees family farming in three main ways: it is linked to world food    security; it also promotes balanced diets and helps protect biodiversity; and lastly, it promotes strong local economies when  coupled with other        policies which serve to protect the well-being of communities. The UN  declaration aims to focus on policies for sustainable development of agricultural systems. In terms of food security the role of the family farm is pivotal. The World Bank estimates that a 1% increase in GDP in the agriculture sector will be twice as effective in alleviating poverty compared to any other sector.
And how does this apply to Canada? Certainly the Canadian family farm is facing a number of critical issues. The first is the investment needed to operate a     modern farm. For example, for a large farm (assets of more than one million dollars) an investment of $2.31 in assets will return $1 of revenue. However, a farm generating less than one hundred thousand dollars requires $18        dollars of assets to return       $1 of revenue. The result is that profitability rests with large farm operations – more often corporate enterprises rather than family farms.
Even more alarming are statistics of who is on the farm; less than 2.5% of Canada’s population is on the farm and 48 percent of all farmers are 55 or older. Only 8.2 percent of farm operators are under 35.  These changes have brought about changes in farm produce. With the demise of the Wheat Board, canola has replaced wheat as the dominant crop in Western Canada and beef farming has     fallen from 27 percent five years ago to 18 percent of farming today. Other farm produce has also faced serious declines. For example, although all the experts agree that Ontario produces the world’s best peaches, all peach canning plants in Canada have closed down. If you buy a can of peaches at your local grocery store, look at the label – most often it comes from China.
In declaring 2014 the International Year of Family Farm, the UN has drawn attention to a    number of issues facing the family farm – the      disappearance of many family farms, population migration to urban centers and lack of government support. In short, family farms have suffered from too many years of lack of interest towards agriculture. Government policies have replaced the wisdom of the family farm with the mechanization of profits.