EPISODE 16: Fighting for the Family Farm

Co-hosts Troy Stozek and Stef McLachlan talk to Fred Tait about his farm and involvement with the National Farmers Union and Beyond Factory Farming, and how agro-business and government policies threaten agriculture in Canada.

Fred Tait is a farmer and farm activist who has been farming for over 50 years in Rosendale Manitoba. In this episode, Fred talks about his concerns with the current agriculture system, and how it has moved away from revolving around the farm family and local community, to the export-oriented corporate model it is today.

Fred talks about the corporatization of agriculture, and how it takes away the focus from the betterment of the community to the betterment of the return of the investment on the corporate structure that’s occupying farm space. This new model takes money away from the community and the people of the community to the effect that they can no longer stay there resulting in abandoning farms, and forcing even more reliance on the high tech inputs that are putting our food system in jeopardy

In his eyes, when the corporate world came into the hog industry it was obvious that the small family farms, which had at one point thrived in the community he grew up in, would collapse under the new models. In many small communities, including his, hog farming simply does not exist any more. It is clear that the current model is not working by the amount of taxpayers dollars that are being pumped into these corporate operations. This money could have been spent in hundreds of different ways instead of simply fueling the current process that is obviously causing significant amounts of damage socially, environmentally and economically.

The potato industry in Manitoba was initially a very welcome industry, as it adapted to the landscape easily and fit in with the transition time when labour people were looking for small farm employment. But as the system itself became more high tech and irrigation and tile drainage became mandatory, as the Simplot and McCain processing plants moved into Manitoba the whole industry started to change. Fred Tait talks about how this once welcome industry has become feared among many farmers in Manitoba.

But despite all this Fred is still optimistic about the future of food in Manitoba. Listen to the rest of the podcast and check out these links to find out more:

The National Farmers Union:
http://www.nfu.ca/

Beyond Factory Farming:
http://beyondfactoryfarming.org/

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