The Gallivanting Gourmand
Greg Duncan
Greg Duncan
is a freelance writer based in the Montreal region. He is particularly keen about good food. In his day job, Greg is the executive director of the Quebec Community Newspapers Association.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 11.27.04


How are you gonna keep 'em down on the family farm, after you bankrupt 'em?

Consumers are about to be being milked again. If you thought prices at the gas pump are shocking try calculating imminent cost increases destined for your table.

Get out your pencil and milk money cause you'll need it. The price of milk and dairy is about to rise substantially and you'll need a degree in politics to understand.

Just try to figure out why meat packer profits have risen some 30 percent post-mad cow and border closures. The answer lies in your tax dollar through the federal subsidies given to these fatties.

While subsidies lined their pockets they bought beef at distressed prices from desperate farmers. We get ripped off twice using this formula -- once at the store and another via the government.

Retailers are not crying poor, as prices at the grocery have remained high. This, while our farmers have gone broke and bankrupt. Things are not good on the farm folks. The price of quality feed is up, restrictions on the use of bovine growth hormones (perhaps rightly so), and a continued quagmire of political crap spell disaster for the farmer and us.

Of course, in the upper echelons of the agricultural game, leaders gain political support by doling out your taxes to the giants in the industry. If you have enough power to lobby you will profit.

Down on the family farm, however, you'll be lucky to sell beef for peanuts.

On the milk side, panicked sell-off of young milk producing replacement animals coupled with a lower overall milk yield due to the aforementioned reduction in boosting hormones, delivers a supply and demand scenario. As farmers reduce amounts of feed to animals due to a rise in feed costs, animals produce less milk. Prices are reflected in this supply and demand theory and fuel prices drive the cow home. So what can we do?

Boycott beef and milk? Eat more meat alternatives or go veggie?

Under the current scenario, it hardly seems to make sense to punish farmers by a boycott. After all, they are not setting the prices and are subject to the politics of conglomerates and the government.

In short, it's the political system that's flawed. Make your dissatisfaction known to local, provincial, and federal representatives in support of your farmer and neighbor and in the mean time get out your wallet. Let's hope that an increase in milk costs actually helps the farmer. I'm tired of fattening the profits of conglomerates at the government trough.

Sorry, no recipe this week. I'm not hungry and I'm madder than a cow. Try to buy local and Canadian, eh?