N E W S L E T T E R
Roos Dairy Goats
CFFO Hosts Premier WHAT’S INSIDE
Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario
US-China Trade War
Chance to WIN $500
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Winter/Spring 2020 Production
President’s Comments With the Ontario legislature on a long vacation this summer, we saw fewer new government policy proposals open for comment than usual. This hiatus gave us the opportunity for more meetings with Minister Hardeman and face-to-face discussions with Premier Ford. Besides a CFFO advocacy event attended by the premier and a number of MPPs this summer (see next page), I have met with Minister Hardeman regarding Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers contracting issues, farm business red tape issues and trade issues. Over the past months, we’ve also taken opportunities to respond to government’s call for policy input. We’ve focused on government policy changes affecting our key issues: preserving farmland and protecting our soil and water. Read more about our policy responses on page 4-5. We have real concerns that each new bill prioritizes housing and business development at the expense of farm sector protections and nature preservation. The balance is shifting. As always, we look to our members for input through our Provincial Councils, Policy Tours, District meetings and more. We encourage you to personally respond to government proposals. And keep letting us know how you think CFFO, as your representative farm organization, should respond. All our efforts in promoting sustainable practices in Ontario are aimed at making sure we do the best we can to fulfill our God-given responsibility to steward the Lord’s resources. We will continue to encourage government to do the same.
The CFFO newsletter is published two times a year by the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario for its members and friends.
Editorial and Creative Team Marie Versteeg, editor, writer Frances Pitkin, production manager Suzanne Armstrong, writer Paul Bootsma, writer Brenda Dyack, writer
Disclaimer Opinions expressed in the Newsletter may not necessarily reflect those of the CFFO.
Contact Submit a question, suggest a story or change your address: email@example.com
About the CFFO The CFFO develops and advocates for sound social, economic and environmental policy for farmers, based on Christian stewardship principles, and works to open opportunities for members to be successful and responsible entrepreneurs.
Want to hear more about our work? You can receive our free weekly e-Commentaries and bi-monthly e-Updates. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up.
Interested in attending CFFO’s Provincial Council and/or special committees? Find meeting information at www.christianfarmers.org
CFFO Board Members with special guests; (left to right) MPP Randy Pettapiece (representing the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs), local MPP Will Bouma, Premier Doug Ford, and local MPPs Donna Skelly and Belinda Karahalios
CFFO Welcomes Elected Officials Farm Tour Opens Conversation on Red Tape, Animal Activism.
his summer, CFFO Board members hosted Premier Doug Ford and several local MPPs on a farm tour in Lynden. Our guests learned about farm operations and the issues facing the industry, from red tape to labour concerns. In a short address, CFFO President Clarence Nywening explained the stewardship focus of CFFO farmers. He also encouraged government to protect farmland in Ontario in order to ensure a sustainable industry well into the future. The Board also spent time talking one-to-one with the Premier and fellow MPPs about issues concerning CFFO members. In particular, they shared farmers’ concerns about animal activists who have been trespassing onto farms without fear of consequence. Board members were encouraged by the receptive ears of our elected officials. We look forward to further opportunities to share the concerns of our members.
Based in Biblical principles, CFFO believes in working respectfully with those in office to bring a Christian perspective to provincial farm policy. We’ve spent 65 years working with the government of the day to promote positive change for Ontario agriculture.
To learn more about CFFO’s historical approach to advocacy, see page 18.
Policy Notes Highlights of CFFO Policy Work from Recent Months.
The Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) Review Subtle Changes Encourage Urban Sprawl.
FFO spoke against proposed changes to the PPS that instruct municipalities to rank preservation of prime agricultural and specialty crop land dead last of all land-use priorities. Short-run priorities for speeding development; promoting housing development; encouraging economic development and job growth; expanding aggregates operations, especially those closer to development areas; and prioritizing mining and resource identification all rank more highly in the PPS than long-run needs for farmland preservation. The proposed changes instruct municipalities to respond to population growth as the driving force of development. With recent reductions in density targets for new builds and reduced intensification targets within municipal borders, there is no other way to accommodate population growth but to expand borders. The consequence is urban sprawl and an inevitable reduction in farmland and natural spaces. CFFO supported the PPS guidance to municipalities to respect the needs of the Agricultural System, but it is unclear whether this is a requirement or merely a suggestion. We asked that Agricultural Impact Assessments (AIAs) be requirements right across the province. We asked that the government consider the enormous benefits of placing a higher priority on farmland preservation and sustainable managed growth that
balances the social, economic and environmental goals as preferred by modern society. Whatâ€™s needed with a revised PPS is smart, forward-thinking urban design leadership. People must be housed and they must have jobs, but there are better growth models. Ontario could plan better, develop better land use mapping models and be heralded as the most effective steward of resources in a world that is grappling with the land management challenge of continued unsustainable urban sprawl.
Excess Soil From Brownfields CFFO Seeks Protections for Farmers Accepting Excess Soils.
FFO asked that agricultural lands must be specifically named in the excess soil regulations and rules to ensure food-producing lands are protected from any and all negative consequences of excess soil imports. We questioned the emphasis on reducing controls over potentially contaminated soils in the name of faster and lower cost development. In the case of potentially contaminated soils, we claimed it is essential to ensure that everyone involved in the industry gets the right incentive to do the right thing. Clearly, it is expensive to test excess soils and then to either clean or permanently contain contaminated soils. But there can be no tolerance for anyone cutting corners with insufficient soil testing, and there must be clear and full liability for potential contamination. Controls over movement of contaminated soils should never be considered to be unnecessary red tape when serious human health and environmental condition is at risk.
Lake Erie Lakewide Action & Management Plan (LAMP)
The Better for People, Smarter for Business Act
CFFO Calls for Focus on Meaningful Clean-up Efforts.
Beware the unintended consequences!
ith a significant CFFO farmer presence in the Lake Erie Basin, we have a serious interest in how best to clean up the lake. CFFO applauded research achievements aimed at improving Lake Erie water quality and asked that future research be focused on informing policy development for actually cleaning up the lake. CFFO recommended using an assessment framework that can rank possible clean-up efforts. Where is the greatest bang for our buck? Obviously, projects with the highest net benefit should be the focus. Surprisingly, as it is now, there are no metrics for objectively measuring the relative benefit of either clean-up projects or of further research proposals addressing one aspect of the problem versus another. There is no common yardstick. CFFO agreed with the report’s recommendation that research needs to better clarify farming’s contribution to nutrient loading of the lake. This needs to be followed by improved Best Management Practice guidance for farmers where it matters most. How this gets done is not clear given that Environmental Farm Plans (EFP) and Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) funding of research are the only two Ontario initiatives identified in the report. The bottom line is that OMAFRA’s focus should be on ensuring Ontario farmers are treated fairly with respect to their relative responsibilities as a sector and as Canadians. Ontario farmers should only be expected to make efforts in line with their contributions. The main contributors need to take the greatest action. Being able to assess alternative actions by adopting an objective assessment framework will make sure this happens.
ill 132, government’s most recent omnibus bill, focused on cutting red tape. It included over 80 proposed action items, affecting 14 different Ontario Ministries. There are several measures in the Bill that have the potential to ease regulatory burden for many of Ontario’s farmers, and CFFO applauded such changes in our response to government. We raised concerns, however, on two issues: the proposed changes to the Aggregate Resources Act and the introduction of the Line Fences Repeal Act. Changes to the Aggregate Resources Act, both within Bill 132 and an earlier proposal regarding the Act, increase the ability of aggregates companies to operate and diminish the power of municipalities to establish oversight. CFFO objected to several changes and specifically requested that Agricultural Impact Assessments (AIAs) be required for aggregate operations located near prime farmland. AIAs assess the impacts of development on the province’s agricultural network. Bill 132 also proposes to scrap the Line Fences Act, downloading responsibility for disputes to the municipality. CFFO argued that the current system works efficiently and inexpensively. Municipal bylaws over such disputes will lead to confusion and—ironically—more red tape for farmers and rural landowners. CFFO asked government to withdraw the proposed Line Fences Repeal Act.
Complete policy submissions can be seen online at www.christianfarmers.org/issues.
CFFO Policy Tour 2020
District Summer Gatherings Blending Fellowship and Grassroots Advocacy.
ach summer, many of our Christian District Association Boards host summer picnics, barbeques and even fish fries for CFFO members in their regions. This year, attendance at most picnics surpassed previous numbers. In Oxford, all the plates were used for supper, which meant that they had to work for dessert, as well. A few districts even ran out of food—a great problem to have.
Balancing Farming with Development The farming sector often finds itself caught between a push for development on one hand and a push for environmental protection on the other. Government is in the process of refining two key policy tools. Let’s make sure they will keep that all-important balance.
Environmental Farm Plan – due for an update for a new generation of farmers.
Agricultural Impact Assessments – a new tool to help balance the Agri-Food Network with other development.
Have your say. Help CFFO ensure these policy tools will work well for farmers now and in years to come. Visit www.christianfarmers.org/events to find a meeting near you.
District Annual Meetings 2020
any District Christian Farmers Association Boards will host our annual CFFO Policy Tour on the same dates as their Annual Meetings. CFFO members are warmly welcomed to attend these meetings in their districts in order to vote on important district matters, from finances to board elections, as well as to discuss local concerns. Please watch your mailbox for your invitation to your District Annual Meeting. 6
And thanks to the federal election, we also saw a bump in the number of MPs and other candidates attending these gatherings as well. Events like these are an important opportunity for districts to build relationships with their elected representatives.
Farm Shows District Members Promote Our Federation.
everal districts hosted CFFO booths at local farm shows this year. Special thanks goes to all the districts who helped us this year, including Huron District at the Pork Congress, Quinte District at the Hastings County Farm Show, and ChathamKent-Essex and Haldimand-Norfolk Districts at the Outdoor Farm Show. We could not do it without the help of our volunteers. Our Northeastern Ontario District had an opportunity to showcase their region this September, when the International Plowing Match was held in Verner. This was a great opportunity to talk about the CFFO in this area, both with farmers and local farm businesses. District president Blair Grove and CFFO representatives also had the opportunity to speak with a number of politicians who attended the event.
The CFFO flag and banner were also up at the Royal Winter Fair this November. We shared booth space with CFFO Partner, FBC. The Royal is one of Ontario agriculture’s premier events, and we were pleased to have a presence there. This event offers farmers and others in agriculture the opportunity to celebrate their talents, including CFFO members. For example, we’d like to offer special congratulations to CFFO members, the Van Bergeijks, who won the Grand Champion Variety Cheese - Cow Milk trophy. The van Bergeijks own Mountainoak Cheese in New Hamburg.
CFFO Agri-Day Touring Bee Farms in Niagara.
Adam van Bergeijk with the Grand Champion Variety Cheese - Cow Milk trophy at the Royal Winter Fair.
FFO was pleased to partner with the Ontario Beekeepers Association for our third annual CFFO Agri-Day, this August. CFFO members met passionate beekeepers and mead makers during guided farm tours in Niagara-on-the-Lake. They also learned more about the challenges and opportunities facing this unique industry. CFFO Agri-Day is an annual event, open to CFFO members and friends. Every year, members have the opportunity to travel to a different region to see firsthand the diversity of Ontario agriculture. We hope you’ll join us next summer!
Stewardship and Policy Committee Provincial Land Use Policy on the Ground.
he Stewardship & Policy Committees met in Woodstock and Peterborough this September to discuss government’s proposed changes to the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS). The PPS sets out guidelines for municipal land use planning across the entire province. Committee members reviewed key changes to the Statement, offering informative feedback that reflects local concerns. Their comments illustrated just how complicated a one-size-fits-all approach to land use planning can be. These meetings were foundational for building CFFO’s response to government. Read more about it on page 4.
Rosewood Estates Winery
CFFO Members B-Y’s Honey Farm
Provincial Council Report
Provincial Council Changes
Trade Wars, Aggregates and the Environmental Farm Plan.
We’re Hitting the Road!
FFO district leaders and members met this October for the final Provincial Council of 2019. Provincial Council is open to all CFFO members. Participants hear from informative speakers, discuss provincial farm policy, and share concerns from their regions.
Trade Wars During the meeting, Al Mussel, Agri-Food Economic Systems, presented analysis on recent trade disputes and potential outcomes for Canadian agri-food strategy. (See Mussel’s article on page 10 for more information.)
Aggregates The Provincial Council also discussed proposed changes to Ontario’s Aggregate Resources Act. The province is seeking to ensure that gravel pits can be dug closer to development areas, which could jeopardize prime farmland. Members offered a balanced approach to aggregate extraction, recognizing the need to protect prime farmland, while also acknowledging the needs of our growing population. CFFO will continue to advocate on this issue, arguing for long-term thinking on land use planning.
Environmental Farm Plan The Council also welcomed OMAFRA staff who are working to modernize Ontario’s Environmental Farm Plan (EFP). During breakout sessions, OMAFRA staff canvassed CFFO members for ideas to improve the EFP. CFFO was instrumental in the development of the EFP in the 1990s, and we look forward to continued partnership with OMAFRA and other industry organizations to strengthen this valuable tool for Ontario agri-businesses. If you have any feedback about past experiences using the EFP, please contact us at email@example.com.
or many years, Provincial Council has been meeting three times a year in Guelph. After hearing from regular attendees this year, we’re working to make meetings accessible to more of our members. In 2020, CFFO is increasing the number of meetings and hosting them in changing locations:
February 2020 – Guelph June 2020 – New Market September 2020 – Peterborough November 2020 – Guelph CFFO members are invited to hear informative speakers, discuss farm policy, and share district concerns. Regular attendees love the opportunity to hear news and perspectives from different corners of the province. We hope you’ll join us this year! To learn more about Provincial Council and to receive meeting notices, please contact the CFFO.
SUPPORTING THE FUTURE LEADERS OF ONTARIO AGRICULTURE
CHRISTIAN FARMERS Federation Of Ontario
The CFFO awards up to $10,000 in scholarships annually. For full details, visit www.christianfarmers.org/scholarship
Sorting out a Changing Environment Facing Canadian Agriculture and Food Tense US-China Relations and Compromised WTO Authority Affect Stability of Canadian Exports
ith the harvest of 2019 the recognition is building that it has been a difficult year, and that this may be a harbinger of difficult times to come. An understanding is required of the various factors that have contributed to a disruptive farm products market environment in 2019, how these fit together in anticipating developing future risks and opportunities, and how our approach to agricultural policy should shift in response.
by Rabobank and INTL FC Stone suggest that pork production and the sow herd in China could be down 55% or more in 2019 versus 2018. Chinese statistics suggest that retail pork prices are up 69% versus 2018. As China seeks alternate sources of meat, it will export meat price hyper-inflation. Restrictions on exports to China have injured the US farm economy; the US responded with ad hoc payments under the Market Facilitation Program, valued at $US 12 billion in 2018 and $US 16 billion in 2019. The US will be challenged to fit these payments within their WTO limits on farm subsidies, and the payments represent an abrupt trend reversal on support payments, which had been in broad decline as a share of farm cash receipts since the WTO Agreement on Agriculture (1995).
he US-China trade war was kicked off in Spring 2018 with US tariffs on steel and aluminum, followed by retaliation by China against US soybeans, pork, and other products. But a critical intervening factor was the outbreak of African Swine Fever in China, first notified in early US-World Trade August 2018, and Organization structurally reducing Relations the Chinese demand for soymeal in he US has evolved feeds and imported as a critic of the soybeans—making WTO, to the point the retaliatory that it has blocked duties levied against appointments of WTO President Donald Trump meets with China’s President Xi Jinping at the start of their the US feasible for appeals panelists to bilateral meeting at the G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan, June 29, 2019. Kevin Lemarque/Reuters China. Moreover, press its demands for regardless of the reform of the WTO. trade war with the US, China is increasingly drawing Under these conditions, as of December 2019, the formal upon its focused investments in South America, Asia, and trade dispute resolution mechanism of the WTO will Africa as a source of imported raw materials—notably be sidelined. This is akin to eliminating the Supreme soybeans and meats. Court, so there is no final verdict on what laws mean or how they should be interpreted; ultimately, this can In the intervening period, African Swine Fever has spread undermine the credibility of the laws themselves. throughout China and East Asia, and menaces the global The alternative to rules-based resolution of trade meat supply as never before experienced. Estimates disputes under WTO is trade relations based on power
and leverage. An illustration of what this could mean was provided by the recent US-Japan trade agreement (still to be ratified). By all appearances, Japan was coerced into providing the US much the same access to Japanâ€™s agri-food market as it would have obtained under the Trans-Pacific Partnership (from which the US withdrew), under the threat of auto tariffs levied against Japan by the US. There is some thought among trade experts that in the US-Japan agreement, fundamental WTO rules are violated relating to equity of treatment across countries and the conditions for exemption to this treatmentâ€” although it is unclear that any third countries are prepared to challenge it. Another example exists in the new US-China trade deal, announced in October. While there are no details at the time of writing, a commitment on behalf of China to buy a specified amount of US agricultural products is expected, representing a managed trade arrangement in which the US secures for itself a fixed level of exports to China, to the exclusion of others, without either country forging a fulsome trade agreement that includes substantively all trade. For its part, China appears committed to its model of economic development using State Owned Enterprises in trade and manufacturing, which differs sharply from the market orientation of western countries.
farm income is a losing game. However, with the US shifting sharply in this direction and with Canada in a free-trade relationship with the US on most farm products, Canada probably has no choice but to protect its producers with ad hoc payments in response. Formulating a mechanism to do so with clear objectives and discipline will be a challenge. Canadian agri-food faces a future that could look very different from our recent experience, and this will impact our needs regarding agricultural policies. We need to be prepared for a volatile time with disruptive shifts, and we must be open to ideas different from those we have operated with for the last 25 years.
This article was written by Al Mussel for the CFFO, November 5, 2019.
Implications for Canada
his developing situation carries heavy implications for Canadian agriculture. The erosion of rulesbased trade under WTO and the rise of trade based on international power politics is a major setback for Canada. As a small country, Canada simply lacks the economic weight of larger countries like the US, China, and the EU, making market access to other countries structurally more risky. Canada has benefitted from specialization and expansion in scale from being able to supply export markets with almost the same reliability and cost as the domestic market. This assumption is unlikely to apply going forward. The return of farm subsidies as a major element of farm incomes is also highly problematic for Canada. The experiences of the 1980s taught us that farm subsidies are perverse and thus difficult to get away from, once started. First, the introduction of subsidies has the effect of divorcing production signals from market signals; this tends to drive low prices even lower, requiring even more subsidy. Secondly, the effects of increased subsidy from a large country like the US will induce others to respond in kindâ€”either because of the effects in reducing world prices, or because of the precedent established allowing increased support. The effect is to spread increased farm subsidies across countries, further reducing farm prices and justifying future farm support payments. This places Canada in a difficult position. Our experience tells us that program payments as a means of supporting
Al Mussell is the Research Lead, and founder, of Agri-food Economic Systems. His areas of research expertise are farm management, agricultural marketing, and agricultural policy.
BOSS for Farms Update on CFFO CAP-Funded Research Project What is BOSS for Farms?
OSS for Farms (BOSS) is a decision support tool we are developing for choosing the best set of management practices to suit the specific conditions of a farmer’s field. BOSS stands for “Best Optimization Scenario Selection.” CFFO is leading the BOSS research project that is being run in three phases. The first phase, BOSS 1, research into farmers’ use of selected Best Management Practices, is complete. The remaining phases, BOSS 2 and 3, are now underway and will be funded in partnership with OMAFRA. The information gathered to complete BOSS 1 was drawn from two sources. The first was data from the 2019 CFFO Policy Tour survey of farmers. Ultimately, the BOSS research team does not want to build a tool that farmers don’t need or won’t use, so we consulted farmers as the first step in the project. The Policy Tour provided an ideal opportunity to learn at the grassroots level what farmers do and why they do it. As a result, the whole set of discussions and survey outcomes are driving the development of the user-friendly BOSS decision support tool. The second source of information used to complete BOSS 1 was an intensive review of the research literature that would answer as best as possible the questions CFFO farmers posed to the research team during the Policy Tour. Almost 200 papers were summarized on five topics: tillage, cover cropping, nutrient management, drainage and best scouting practices with a focus on practices to improve soil quality by supporting the soil biome. During the next phase of the project, BOSS 2, this information is being converted to a digitized research database. From there, the decision support tool will be developed, drawing on the new database. BOSS 3 will involve testing the BOSS decision support tool with 10 farmers in 2020. In this article, we are sharing some results from BOSS 1.
What Do Farmers Want? We heard during the Policy Tour this year that CFFO farmers have strong opinions about what is best practice for their own farms. They understand their own conditions and their own goals. Everyone called for 12
perfect weather, of course, but they also asked for as much practical advice as they could get about the most recent research on farm practices. They want unbiased advice and they want to be updated all the time. Before they plant, they’d like to be able to test out some scenarios for alternative ways of doing things on the farm and be able to compare both the likely income results and predicted environmental impacts. They said they would appreciate assistance in choosing the best set of management practices mainly because more and more they find that “best” advice for one practice may not be “best” for another practice. And while there are conflicts in best advice, they also find synergies. What farmers have asked for is better advice that assists them in their own strategic balancing of various production options given their own site and equipment constraints. They want advice that weighs up the various options for their circumstances depending on their own goals. In short, they want to be able to assess various options for achieving their personal goals based on the best available information.
What Do Farmers Do? There was lively discussion during the 2019 CFFO Policy Tour—and a good dose of debate as well. It was clear that there is no consensus on what is “best” practice, with many examples shared about what farmers do on their own farms supported with the reasons they believe these practices are best. There were lots of questions directed at the farmers who spoke up and then sharing of experiences. The researchers on the BOSS team were there to learn about what farmers do, why they believe in these practices, and what they want in the way of decision support. The most discussed topic was tillage. What is best? To till or not to till? More than one CFFO farmer said that tillage is essential. There were many questions about cover crops and how best to earn a living while still investing in expensive farm practices that support good environmental stewardship. Some showed concerns about what crop advisors encourage them to buy because they worry the advisors may be biased. On the whole, there was a clear consensus about the complexity of the decisions they had to make and
the fact that their own specific conditions dictated what was best for them. The results clearly show that everyone agrees that “one-size-fits-all BMP advice” is not appropriate when we are seeking the most cost effective and feasible environmental outcomes.
Agreement was also found on the fact that practices that may be in the best interests of individual farmers from a yield and farm income sustainability perspective, may not coincide with the most beneficial management practice for an agricultural system that is best for overall environmental outcomes.
The survey results certainly reflected the discussions with farmers. They do indeed use a full range of practices.
First of all, there was not much interest in OMAFRA BMP booklets. Farmers said they can get a great deal of advice from experts on the internet and the booklets weren’t helpful when BMPs conflicted. No-till is used across soil types, and clays have the most tillage. Field tiles are used regardless of soil type; use of surface drainage is the only drainage
approach used in some cases, and this is also used across soil types. Burndown is used in both fall and spring. Frequency for strip till is low (but emerging). Soil type is not a factor on who removes stover. Cover crop use is growing; more use annuals than perennials; soil type is not a factor.
4 5 6 7
What Do Farmers Need to Know? The BOSS 1 literature review focused on what farmers said they needed to know. We have compiled the most recent information regarding the most suitable beneficial practices for specific conditions. Soil type, climatic factors and other characteristics determine the best choices for tillage, cover cropping, nutrient management, drainage and best scouting practices with a focus on practices to improve soil quality by supporting the soil biome. Now in the second phase of the project, the research team is compiling this large data set based on almost 200 recent research papers and researcher advice and digitizing it. What we have observed already is that it makes sense that CFFO survey results show a wide range of practices in what farmers actually do. One size certainly does not fit all!
Table 1. Percentage of Respondants Using Each Pracce
l l s n s s t e n ls ge ge va ng llage pe ge Til nage ual ing ag nia en ow reak one ow na e Ty Tilla Tilla No mo lan Z ai Ann rain ren n D gem n D Ti Farm B e r r g l P g p R l r e d D D la n ri r ff Pe Bur ana Bu st in ur Fa St ce Til Spri No to Bu tove Po W g M Fall rfa on S ield rin due C p Su S F si Re tch Di
Percentage of survey respondents that use each BMP. Because 13 of the surveys were le blank, N=162 (rather than 175).
This project was funded in part through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, (The Partnership), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assisted in the delivery of Partnership funding to this project.
The Financial Realities of Farm Retirement How much money does a Canadian farmer need to retire?
ccording to farm finance and transition experts, it depends primarily on the intended lifestyle and a personal definition of financial security.
Getting a hard number, however, means developing a plan that aligns retirement goals with business and savings realities.
Set Realistic Goals Brent VanParys is an Ontario-based accountant and business transition services expert. He says lifestyle factors, like place of residence, travel goals and whether leaving assets for successors is a priority, are some of the most important considerations in determining retirement needs. Business owners, VanParys says, should go through a “comprehensive financial planning exercise” with a trusted advisor to see what their future might look like based on current realities – as well as how their lifestyle could be adapted. “They may need to change their lifestyle or definition of financial security in order to meet all of their expectations,” VanParys says. Colin Sabourin, an investment advisor and financial planner based in Winnipeg, says making a good plan starts with totalling expenses to see how much is needed each month. From there, look at the time frame, how much has been saved and how much can still be made. When expectations and financial realities don’t line up, farmers can either retire later, save more money or find a new source of income, such as taking more investment portfolio risk. “They only have three options. You can’t keep all three... If they don’t want to do any of them, they have to be comfortable with not reaching their goal,” Sabourin says.
A Comprehensive Look at Expenses & Savings Detailed planning is required before retirement needs can be truly understood. Sabourin says doing so helps farm clients take advantage of different savings options, such as tax-free savings accounts.
Expenses generally covered by the farm business, such as water and electricity, need to be accounted for as well, according to Annessa Good, an Alberta-based transition specialist with FCC. The responsibility for these expenses might shift to the retiring party if, for example, they move to property in town or are otherwise not part of the farm. One-time expenses associated with retirement, such as moving, should also be considered, she says.
Don’t Forget about Your Health Both VanParys and Sabourin say potential increases in health care expenses, as well as other setbacks, should not be discounted. “What if things stay stagnant and don’t keep up with inflation?” Sabourin says. “You should make some sort of projection to see how everything looks if things go sideways. “It seems I always have to convince people they will need as much money in the future as they do today. You might not be doing as much, but you may not be in good health either.”
Bottom Line Identify retirement income needs by meeting with farm finance and transition specialists. The experts should help farmers identify retirement plans, current income and savings. That information then helps create an indepth understanding of goals, financial capabilities and vulnerabilities.
This article was written by Matt McIntosh and released on October 17, 2019. It was originally published by Farm Credit Canada (FCC), and is republished with permission of the author and FCC. Read more FCC Knowledge articles at www.fcc.ca/knowledge.
CHRISTIAN FARMERS Federation Of Ontario
Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario
Annual Meeting 24 March 2020
St George Banquet Hall, Waterloo
What’s the future of your farm? Join fellow CFFO members for a series of discussions on the options available to your family.
SAVE THE DATE!
Nominations to the CFFO Board of Directors are now open. If you would like to nominate a fellow CFFO member to be on the Federation board, please contact us at 1-855-800-0306 for more information about the nomination process.
Roos Dairy Goats, Ltd. Award winners bring grit and creativity to their farm. CFFO members Jan and Jony Roos are the winners of the 2019 Ontario Outstanding Young Farmers (OYF) Award. The award recognizes excellence in the profession of farming. Together, Jan and Jony own and operate Roos Dairy Goats, Ltd., located near Woodstock, where they live with their four young children, Julian, Joanna, Janine and Jessica. Jan and Jony were nominated for the award by a former employee. The OYF application process is challenging and time-consuming for program finalists. “But it was eye-opening, too,” Jony comments. “To see how much we did over the years—wow.” The story of how this couple built their business into one of Ontario’s largest dairy goat farms is certainly a story about determination. Jan and Jony, both originally from the Netherlands, were raised in farming families. But they had no experience with goats. Jan had been doing custom work since his early teens, and Jony had her own florist business, but both wanted to work with animals. There was a growing market for goat, so they took the leap. They got their start in 2007 with 200 goats, buying the herd before they even had a barn. The goats were kept on Jan’s brother’s farm while they put up their first building. With an eye to growth, they built that first barn to house five hundred goats right away.
“We hope to give our children a life on the farm, to learn how to be responsible, creative and caring. We like to be good examples towards our employees, family, friends and neighbors, as together we live.”
“In 2008, we bought another 200,” Jan says, tracking their progress. “The following two years, we bought two other herds, 300 and 400 goats. From there we grew out.” Today, they milk 2000. Goats are milked in a state-of-the-art 100-stall rotary parlour, selected after Jan toured several farms in the Netherlands. It’s the first of its kind in North America. The couple had originally started with a double-24 parlor and then expanded to a double-32 parlour. They were milking almost constantly, and it was difficult to find and keep employees. The rotary parlour has made a huge difference. Now that they can milk one hundred goats at a time, they’ve gone from eight-hour milking shifts to three and a half hours. Since their start in 2007, the business has seen growth almost every year, as the energetic pair bought additional herds, added more barn structures, or purchased more land to grow feed for the herd. Today, they work with one full-time employee and several parttimers. They also employ a handful of teens from the area to help to bottle-feed the baby goats in the winter. “They’re all girls—you need patience to feed baby goats,” Jony laughs. During kidding season, as many as 300 goats are born each day. It sounds like chaos, but Jan and Jony have adapted techniques and systems to keep things running smoothly—including developing their own app. With help from a tech-savvy friend, Jony designed a system for tracking goat-kid health in their first busy months. Employees are equipped with tablets so they can import information for each kid under their care, such as feedings and medication. The information enables Jan and Jony to track the health of their herd. “We used to keep all the information on chalkboards, but the goats kept licking it off,” Jony chuckles. The app has gone a long way toward cutting down frustration and ensuring that all employees have the information they need to keep the kids healthy. During kidding season, the newborn billies are separated from the females and sold to another farmer to raise for meat. But Jan and Jony have plans to diversify their business by raising the male goats themselves this winter. “We hope to fill our barns next year to a maximum capacity of 2500 milking goats,” Jan says. They’ve maintained an ambitious growth rate all along—you can see that neither of these two young farmers shy away from hard work. But their business goals are only part of their vision for the future. Jony sums it up well: “We hope to give our children a life on the farm, to learn how to be responsible, creative and caring. We like to be good examples towards our employees, family, friends and neighbors, as together we live.”
Ontario’s Outstanding Young Farmer Award CFFO is a proud sponsor of Ontario’s Outstanding Young Farmers Award. The Outstanding Young Farmers Program (OYF) is a unique program designed to recognize farmers and farm couples who exemplify excellence in their profession. The program is open to farmers or couples who derive at least two-thirds of their income from farming operations. Ontario is one of seven regions participating in the nation-wide program. Each year, Ontario chooses three finalists to vie for the Award. The winners move on to represent their regions at a national event, where they compete to be named Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers. CFFO wishes to congratulate all three Ontario finalists for 2019, all of whom are CFFO members: Kendra & Steve Bloomfield, Bloomers Family Farm, Ilderton Jan & Jony Roos, Roos Dairy Goats, Brownsville Ben Tomory & John Tomory, Pefferlaw Creek Farms, Uxbridge You can learn more about the award, and nominate someone you know, at www.ontario.oyfcanada.com. Nominations for 2020 are open until January 31, 2020.
CFFO’s Balanced Approach to Advocacy Working Relationships, Cooperative Attitude, Grassroots Activity.
he CFFO’s goal in our farming advocacy is to take a longterm view of what is best for the whole of agriculture. We recognize that over time the party in power will change. Strong local relationships with MPPs, regardless of party, whether in government or opposition, are the foundation of our relationship to government as a whole. The CFFO seeks to maintain a working relationship in a cooperative attitude with the provincial government of the day. Each governing party wants to do what is good for Ontarians. Each comes with its own agenda on what that means in practice. It is important to work constructively for the most effective advocacy. Together with other organizations, CFFO has developed farmer-led responses to key government agendas. This doesn’t mean, however, that we concede without comment to the agenda of each governing party. Criticism is necessary to point out weaknesses or problems with government proposals. The CFFO also works to recommend more beneficial alternatives. When Ontario’s NDP government came to power in 1990, the CFFO worked cooperatively with that government and other
farm organizations to create the Environmental Farm Plan (EFP). It was a farmer-led solution that addressed the government’s environmental priorities. The EFP is foundational for new initiatives on farm sustainability, and versions of it can now be found in many provinces. Farmers were concerned in 2014, when the Liberals managed to form government in primarily urban ridings. Conflict between government and some farm groups later came to a head over restrictions on the use of neonicotinoids. The government and farm organizations learned a lot from that conflict. As a result, all came to the table with a very different approach in order to address phosphorus in Lake Erie. Effective consultation along with active participation by farm organizations, including CFFO, resulted in new farmer-led solutions. The Timing Matters Peer-to-Peer program to address winter spreading is just one example. Now CFFO continues our advocacy tradition with our current Conservative government. As in the past, CFFO is working to build relationships with MPPs and with the government of the day. This includes face-to-face meetings, participation in government consultations, and advocacy letters.
But above all, it is our local relationships with MPPs that are the key to CFFO’s ongoing success in advocacy. These relationships are vital to keeping government as a whole accountable to farmers and local farming concerns.
This CFFO Commentary was written by Brenda Dyack, Executive Director, September 6, 2019. The CFFO Commentary represents the opinions of the writer and does not necessarily represent CFFO policy. The CFFO Commentary is heard weekly on CFCO Chatham, CKXFM Chatham, and CKNX Wingham. It is also archived on the CFFO website, at www.christianfarmers.org.
Criticism is necessary to point out problems with government proposals. The CFFO also works to recommend more beneficial alternatives.
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