Are Farmers Happy?

With an upcoming election, I have been looking for the agricultural issues to come front and center but thus far have been disappointed. A learned agricultural columnist suggested that maybe the farmers are happy. Busy, for sure, happy with commodity prices, finally but all the news does not spell happiness for farmers. Commodity prices may be up, but so are costs and to make a profit is still going to take a pretty sharp pencil. The boundaries in the riding in which I reside have also changed resulting in an area that is now just as much urban as rural, thereby changing the potential outcome of support from an agricultural perspective to an urban perspective. That is not good news for agriculture. Not only are there fewer and fewer of us farmers to vote, now the lines have been re-drawn to make the majority of the area voting an urban group. Add to that the fact that the riding has a large number of Old Order Mennonites who are primarily farmers and don’t vote. That reduces the farming representation even further. There’s still uncertainty regarding supply management with the recent media coverage of the Montreal Economic Institute report on supply management and the Doha round of WTO talks. Farm land prices continue to increase causing a higher cost to getting into the business of farming. No one should be surprised that the average age of the farmer is getting higher and higher. I don’t think the farmers are happy – they are certainly busy and representation from the organized agricultural groups have not brought the agricultural issues to the forefront. Farmers don’t need a history lesson to get them to vote. There’s plenty of other reasons out there.

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