Do I know you - or of you? Seems I might.
Was this the Tom Van Dusen article? Hope I spelled his name right. Or is this one written by wife and fellow board members? So many media folks!! Wife had been on radio, in print and quoted on the telly far more often than I.
I have not seen the article - if indeed it is from this place. As the poster child for broke Ontario beef operations, we are always on the phone to some reporter. Lat night it was the Ottawa Sun for over half an hour. She really wanted to know how many animals we had. Had to laugh because I said when - now or before? We have sold all the cattle that do not live on this place and trimmed here - far cry from before. We are now officially down to about 56 head total - give or take - including yearlings and bull - and I suppose that makes us hobbyists now. Far cry from the old days. I am not sure she got the story right, but she is trying - hafta' give her credit for that.
Basically the returns from our investment would have been better if we had invested 300K in the stock markets. The reason we are so popular - along with the remainder of the local farm board - we all opened our books to the public. You should have seen the eyes on the politicians and media when they were shown the no schitzen real numbers. Wife was there - I was not. She said they found it very sobering. KUDUS to those who did this - all are seriously in the hole with no relief in sight.
I suspect at least 2 dozen beef operations will cease to exist in this county - with another couple dozen that will quietly fade away. Hard to say what will happen in the province. This province is scheduled to lose almost 230 million this year in ag if you believe the latest numbers. Yet we directly affect 650,000 jobs in this province - again, if you believe the numbers
The largest operation in my immediate area is run by a multi-generation farm family. He is younger than I and he told me last week he is out. Quitting. Hopes to keep the farm if he can. Returns on cattle in good years averaged less than 100 bucks profit after all expenses factored in. Thanks to regulations and taxes and ... and ... and ... Losses have been so heavy for the past two years he is completely wiped out.
His wife provided the slush by working off farm.
Now we all fight high taxes, intrusive and expensive legislation, bankers and mortgagemen, utility costs skyrocketing and now on their way up again, subsidies that do not come to us or are so expensive and difficult to calculate that they must be completed by paying an accountant, beef prices in the grocery store at all time highs (15 bucks a pound for steak and 4 plus per pound for decent burger), low commodity pricing, debt too deep to climb out, fuel and fertilizer prices up (fert @ 400 plus per tonne), machinery prices out of line with reality and the beat goes on.
Too bad we risked improving this place at the wrong time. That is how we got hurt.
Wife has been on radio and I think television and certainly in the print media. So we never can keep up with where we are.
We are simply slowly going down. Apparently the government believes we have received about $2K in funding - do not remember it - but that will not pay anything of consequence here anyways. So family pumped in an extra $20K to keep things going long enough for us to get out this summer.
Some basic numbers based on one cow / one weaned calf:
Cost to keep per day - $1.50
Per year - 547.5
Cost per weaned calf - Buck a day
Cost to run place based on each cow - right around $675 - less if you go to 150 animals - but other expenses rise - and so on.
Price received per calf - 300.
Bred cows bought for second herd in '99/'00/'01 averaged just over $950
We were going to bring them here but thank heavens we did not.
Sold for survival at $330 average.
It is somewhat more complex that that in real life, but the numbers are close and can be born out on paper. This place lost $60K last year after all financial obligations factored in. Real dollars - not paper dollars.
Beef farming in Ontario is the low man on the totem pole. All provincial and federal numbers prove this. The only way to win is to go gigantic and win at the "subsidy games". None in this area have managed a win yet.
I was in Toronto yesterday and listened to a man tell me it was a smaller loss to let the land lie than it was for him to work it. Makes you think about things.
A fellow who lives in the local village came by today and was a bit short on feed - so I gave him the last of my soy beans (I bagged it for him - three bags) and some corn. Have a lot of corn, so it was no hardship for us. He only has 4 animals and he needed some help.
I'll look for the article - likely someone or three will be calling us about it.
Some day I will learn to be short in my writings. Stay well,
For the past few months, I didn't even want to talk or hear about BSE. It's the reason I am living in Colorado right now rather than Canada with my family. My parents asked me not to come home after graduation to help on the farm - they did not want me to put my career on hold to help them through this. They had hope that things would improve. But that hope is gone now.
The hearts and spirits of Canadian cattlemen are broken. They have been so strong for so long, but people can only have their hopes dashed so many times and remain optimistic. Yesterday was the last straw for a lot of producers.
Cattlemen selling out is the lesser of the worries at this point. We have lost friends and neighbors to suicide as the light has grown dimmer. Now the light is effectively out for many.
I still believe that the border staying closed will make the Canadian beef industry stronger in the long run. The problem is there likely won't be an industry left to worry about.
Bez, Cattle Annie, frenchie, CRR - I don't even know what to say to you, but thank you. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences across Canada and with folks south of the border. And thank you for hanging in there. May God bless you and keep you.
To every single R-CALF supporter on this board and across the United States, may you someday feel the devastation of your northern neighbors.
Well, I thank you for your comments. I am up to 5 who have done themselves in during the past two years. Andy L. out of Fairview, Alberta was the toughest for this family - he, my oldest daughter and I canoed the Peace River for a few days with the 4H group a few years back. The industry in Canada is far smaller than that of the U.S. of A. We all tend to know many folks in most other provinces quite well. The Canadian beef folks usually have a finger on the pulse of what is happening in other provinces across the country.
Be that as it may, I have always attempted to maintain an even keel on R-CALF. I am not sure the positions would be have been different had BSE hit on the other side of the border. What I am truly tired of is all of the finger pointing. I give a damn about who says what to who about what.
My biggest concern is that we all seem to want to scream and shout and swear instead of workling together to solve this issue. It is my observation that there are more than a few on this board who agree with me. Meantime a lot of good people will go down - and through no fault of their own, and no bad management - just bad timing. As I have been quite open about it - we are in the crosshairs and someone is waiting to pull the trigger. As such I am resigned to the inevitable.
Our industry has been hit hard, but it was dealt a body blow by Mr. Dithers and his double speak on BMD - which was just one of many incidents - and the final straw. Our own leaders did us in.
The problem lies with the elites eating well, and drawing big salaries to solve OUR problems. The longer they stretch it out the more they make. It is not about cattle, it is not about the industry and it is not about the people - it is about money and power and greed and yes, self serving corruption at the various levels of not only government, but of industry, and in some cases, the very organizations that are supposed to represent us. Who do we have to blame for this? Look in the mirror.
The Canadian government and the various provincial governments will sit idley by as many of us fall - and not care. You see, food is cheap and the population does not only not know, it for the best part does not care. As long as the store shelves have food they can purchase - then the VOTES that keep politicians in power are safe.
In the end it is far deeper than just BSE. It is about uneven playing fields, it is about not-so-free trade, it is about politicians not doing their jobs, it is about media selling into hype, it is about making money for the right people. And this is being done at the expense of the farmer / rancher. And, most producers are not aware of this. Or worse, they simply hope it continues to happen somewhere else, and not in their pasture.
Woe to the U.S. of A. cattle industry after turning up a positive cow - especially after the hype of R-CALF. We never thought it could happen and you can be sure those with a head on their shoulders in the U.S. of A. are now really aware of what could happen to them if it occurs there. God help them if it does. I would bet you a drink in the bar of your choice that there are some in the U.S. of A. who now are very worried about the potential consequences of a positive animal.
Yeah, we are going to lose a lot of good operations and a lot of good people. I just want to tell everyone to stop the lying and posturing and solve the darned problem - I believe that will not happen for some time to come. Too many self serving schitzen kopfs in the equation.
In the end, when the producers take their hands out of the bucket of water, the hole they leave behind will represent how much they will truly be missed when they are gone
GREED AND POWER, long live R-CALF