Prior to 2006, I had never watched an episode of Oprah. I know – can you believe it? Since that time, I have become an avid follower of her work. I don’t tape every show – the ones on transgender and spouse swapping don’t really interest me – thank goodness for that! But seriously, I think that Oprah has a bigger influence on the North American society than the President or the Prime Minister. Scary but probably true. Recently I watched as her show advised people who had financial problems due to overspending and credit card debt. The show revealed financial institutions and credit card company’s implementation of interest rates that bordered on Al Capone business tactics. Transparency in their business methods was not their priority – making money certainly was. I was impressed with Oprah’s motives in trying to address the huge problem that exists with the debt load of North America. The lesson that she was trying to teach was one of learning to live within your means and understanding mortgages and their accompanying interest rates. There was certainly a lesson about the difference between credit card purchase debt and mortgage debt involved with the purchase of a home. My experience with the education system is that this lesson is being overlooked in the traditional school system and banks and credit card companies don’t mind that the public isn’t learning this lesson. Their motivation is for profit and the uninformed consumer is an easy target for their motivation. I applaud Oprah and company for trying to educate the public and to try to help improve the consumer’s life.
The topics that Oprah chooses tend to be topics that my age group (Oprah’s too!) would be interested in. For instance, since I am semi-retired, an empty-nester and a member of the sandwich generation, I am beginning to wonder if there isn’t something ‘more’ to life – or at least my life. Don’t get me wrong – being an egg queen and drinking Diet Coke certainly provide many exciting moments for me but I think that there has to be “more”. So far, I haven’t found it. I’ve enrolled in an online agricultural communications course and that has provided me with “some” but I really don’t think that this is the “more” that I’m looking for. I volunteered to help with a local community theatre production of a play and discovered that the “more” is not an actor in me ready to be born. Hollywood can breathe a collective sigh of relief! I’ve been offered several jobs that just don’t seem to say “pick me” so I am still on the hunt. I’ve considered attending law school or going to teacher’s college but so far, that’s not calling me either. This shouldn’t be a surprise since lawyers and teachers aren’t at the top of my “Most Admired” list. Maybe I’ll discover the “more” with my most recent attempt of enrolling in an online book discussion through Oprah. It’s the first one of its kind and already there are over 250,000 students enrolled! There must be a lot of people looking for “more” in their life. My first assignment is to read the book, A New Earth – Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle. It needs to be done by March 3rd. Thankfully, I’m on ‘reading week’ from my communications course, so I’ll have no excuse but to be prepared for the 3rd. I’m anxious to read and discuss with others (from all over the world!) about their lives and what they are looking for. Will this book and discussion help them on their search? I’m looking forward to the experience and hope to share my findings here in my blog. Stay tuned!
The current state of the WTO discussions has all of the supply-managed farm organizations on edge. I receive daily emails and read agricultural news articles that update me to the state of the negotiations. It appears to me that supply management is being threatened greatly and I looked forward to attending my zone meeting that was held last night. I expected to hear about the current state of the WTO discussion. I also expected to hear about the EFO’s plan to defend itself against the threat and EFO’s plan if supply management is defeated as a result of the WTO talks. Imagine my surprise when I learned that my Board of Directors and management staff really didn’t have a plan if supply management was defeated. That’s right – no “Plan B”! I began to feel like I was a tobacco farmer rather than an egg farmer. The other fact that surprised me was that I seemed to be the only member who was surprised by this. I am a small egg producer – only 5000 hens. Imagine how uncomfortable I might have been if I held the average egg producer flock of just under 23,000 birds! But to my surprise there seemed to be an aura of calmness throughout the room – except for me. I hope it’s not just because I’m American.
I questioned the EFO general manager, Harry Pelissero (pictured/speaker in post) about the Board’s plan of action if supply management was defeated. Harry continued the conversation, much like a politician, but didn’t really answer my question. I agreed with nearly all of Harry’s comments but pointed out that he really hadn’t answered my question. This generated a chuckle or two. Harry replied that he felt that the Board’s plan was an action plan against the threat to supply management but there really was no plan of action if supply management is gone. I then stated that as a member, I wished to voice the need for a separate plan of action in addition to what is currently in place to defend against the threat. I was not given any assurance that a “Plan B” would be initiated but I intend to make my request again at the annual meeting in March, pending the state of the WTO negotiations at the time. By that time, it may be too late. This lack of attention by farmers to get involved in their own industry – an industry that provides them with a living!- confuses me. What is it going to take to get members involved in their own industry? Am I the only member who thinks that there needs to be a “Plan B”? The livelihood of egg farmers is being threatened. Isn’t that enough? Get involved folks! Educate yourself, communicate to your Directors and let them know how to look after your best interest and to protect you – with or without supply management.
Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. My husband has provided me with the best Valentine’s present ever! He has arranged for our flock of laying hens to be replaced so the birds leave the barn on February 13th and don’t come back in until the 19th which means….no egg gathering for a full week! I love my Perfect Peter. All women aren’t lucky enough to find the love of their life like I have. I have a good friend in Indiana who is still on the hunt but there have been many who have tried to win her heart. One particular suitor had a unique approach to ‘wooing’ her. This particular knight-in-shining armor was akin to one of the “Trailer Park Boys”, you know, a beer-drinkin’, gun-totin’, red-neck but a knight nonetheless. The setting for their first meeting was a local waterin’ hole in the heart of southern Indiana. The meeting was not a romantic dinner for two but rather a group outing with many familiar faces, all co-mingling in the country establishment. Throughout the evening the karaoke machine was quite active and the consumption of beer was at its prime. A haze of cigarette smoke hung near the wooden barn beam-exposed ceiling. As the hour was quickly approaching for the waterin’ hole to close, the large group of friends began to depart, ensuring that the individuals driving were sober – or at least the most sober. As the groups began to depart, each group asked my dear friend if she needed a ride home. With each negative reply, it became clear to me that my friend was hoping for a ride with this ‘might-be’ knight. Observing that this ‘might-be’ knight would become a ‘definitely-not’ knight if my friend were sober; I attempted to get her to accept my offer of a ride home. My friend is a very independent, “I-know-what-I’m-doing” type of woman so I accepted her somewhat belligerent negative response to my offer of a ride. The only remaining option for her to get a ride was from a Paul Bunyan look-alike, less a front tooth or two. It is this description of the possible knight-in-shining armor that clarifies that my friend was not sober! I left the waterin’ hole, shaking my head and grinning a little with the full knowledge that this event was going to make a very entertaining story later!
I was not disappointed. A few days later, my friend called me. The conversation began with her lecturing me about leaving her with no ride home. I set the record straight and she knew that she didn’t have any room to argue. She proceeded to tell me that an offer of a ride did come from Paul Bunyan. The plan was going just as she had hoped. The commute home involved driving on back, gravel roads in order to avoid possible law enforcement agents in the redneck community where alcohol consumption is a common hobby. A detour was made because the shiny knight needed to “take a leak”. As one can see, the caliber of knights in Indiana is different from most parts of the world. As a gentlemanly courtesy, Paul left the radio playing while he was ‘leaking’ – a romantic radio station, I’m sure. During this time, my friend looked out the windshield recognizing some familiar territory which was somewhat unsettling. Several songs had played before Paul returned to the cab of the truck and his appearance was somewhat altered as he was wearing “nothin’ but his socks!” At this point, my friend asked me if I was aware of the fact that ‘Paul’ was missing a tooth or two from his knightly grin. At this point, I was crying as a result of laughing so hard that I couldn’t answer her question.
I have never let her forget how important it is to pay attention to a potential suitor’s smile and to determine whether or not he is wearing socks – as well as other pieces of clothing. And I was quick to add that if one was in such a state that one couldn’t determine either of these items, get a ride home with a known friend rather than a potential ‘knight’.
The months of January and February are notorious for annual meetings for agricultural organizations. The financials have been audited and it’s time to report the news to the members. Also on the agenda at annual meetings are any governing changes or structure changes. These types of changes usually require approval of members to be made.
One such change would be a name change for the organization. The Egg Farmers of Ontario recently went through the name change process.
The former Ontario Egg Producers are known as Egg Farmers of Ontario because the Board of Directors were told that the consumer viewed a ‘farmer’ as being very trustworthy. I have to laugh at this as I recall that when the Pork Producers changed to their current name, one of the reasons for the change was that the consultant that was hired told them that the word ‘farmer’ evoked an image of an uneducated individual and so the pork industry wanted to remove that image and so became the Pork Producers. I’m a member of the Egg Farmers of Ontario. Should I be insulted or complemented as a result of my membership? I’ll have to ask the highly-paid consultant who led the discussion on this name change – if they think that I can understand the discussion and if I can be trusted to convey the message to others. Please don’t spend my membership dollars on this type of advice. It just leads to spending more of my dollars on changing the letterhead and logo. Spend it on public awareness of our industry.