Monday, October 17, 2011

The Myth of the Small, Inefficient Farmer

Here's an interesting bit of data from Cathy Holtslander that I think deserves to be widely seen. Counterintuitively, large farms in Ontario get less of their income from the market, and more of it from government program payments, than smaller farms do - and this is an increasing trend.

The first pie charts show that in 1995, the share of market income obtained by farms with over a million dollars in annual gross revenues was 15%. In 2008, that number fell to 5%.*

Gosh! Since this isn't due to a decreasing number of big farms - the number of million dollar farms tripled over this time, as the number of smallest farms dropped by 25%, I gotta wonder: Where did those big farms get their money, then? During that time, as the second pie charts show, the biggest farms increased their percentage of program payments received from 6% to 26%. (And the value of program payments increased from $30 million to $150 million at the same time.)

Would you rather have your tax money support large corporate farms, or smaller farms? Surely not the former, on the grounds of 'efficiency', because this data explodes that myth. If the latter, the suggestion of a lower cap on program payments to your MP might be a first step.

*Data for these charts is from Statistics Canada, Canadian Farm Financial Database

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