“The Farm Crisis and Corporate Profits” A Report by Canada’s National Farmers Union, November 30, 2005 is at www.nfu.ca/briefs_policy/briefs/2005/corporate_profits.pdf

See here as HTML page

The Farm Crisis, Bigger Farms, and the Myths of "Competition" and "Efficiency" is at www.nfu.ca/briefs_policy/briefs/2003/Myths_PREP_PDF_TWO.pdf

or as a searchable webpage - but without tables or graphics - from this website

Press release from FARM November 26 2003

FARM supports analysis of Canadian National Farmers Union over crisis threatening independent, family farmers worldwide:

Excerpts from our news release on the report are reprinted below.

Commenting on the report, FARM's National Coordinator, Robin Maynard said, 'FARM welcomes this intelligent analysis of the crisis facing farmers globally and their common causes. Time and time again we hear politicians and industry pundits like Lord Haskins and Sean Rickard telling farmers in the UK that they've got to 'get bigger', 'be more efficient', so as to compete with farmers from North America, Australia, Argentina etc etc.

CNFU's analysis shows that to be a false route which ignores the realities of a world market dominated by vast agribusinesses with disproportionate power.

It is also a route that will only lead to more farm bankruptcies, as farmers compete against each other internationally in a race to the bottom that benefits only the corporations driving commodity prices down below the costs of production.

If own home-grown NFU had published a report along the lines of their Canadian counterparts, then the UK farming sector as a whole might stand a chance of challenging the politicians and pundits who subscribe to the short-sighted and narrow definitions of 'efficiency' that are driving the exodus out of UK farming and threatening our long-term food-security.'

Robin Maynard, 020 7349 5832


'Canada's National Farmers Union has just released a new report on agribusiness transnationals and their role in creating the farm crisis. The report also focuses on the lies that agribusiness corporations tell about farmers while these corporations extract our wealth. While the report is produced in Canada, its insights are equally relevant to all farmers.'

Darrin Qualman, NFU Executive Secretary: (306) 652-9465 (Canada)

SASKATOON, Sask.—Between 1996 and 2001, government and corporate policies drove 11% of Canadian farm families off the land. "When you liquidate a population, one of the things that you need to do is to tell lies in order to devalue and marginalize those people. The most pernicious lie told about our family farms during this crisis is that they are ‘inefficient'," said NFU President Stewart Wells.

Wells was speaking today at a news conference in Saskatoon where the NFU released a new report entitled The Farm Crisis, Bigger Farms, and the Myths of "Competition" and "Efficiency". The NFU's report takes a critical look at the fundamental assumptions that underlie agricultural policy in Canada and in much of the world. Along the way it takes a fresh and original look at concepts such as efficiency, competition, economies of scale, the effects of technology, and the allocation of profits within the agri-food system. Wells was joined at the NFU news conference by officials and members from across Canada.

Wells continued, "Poor government policies, defective markets, and powerful corporations undisciplined by competition are wiping out families farms. And if everyone knew that these farms were highly efficient and productive, then their destruction would raise embarrassing questions about the functioning of our markets. But when family farms are painted as inefficient, then their loss can be swept aside as an unfortunate but necessary effect of progress," said Wells.

Wells pointed out that there is overwhelming data showing that the family farm sector may be among the most efficient in the entire Canadian economy. He pointed to Statistics Canada data that shows that over the past 40 years, no other sector has matched the efficiency gains of farmers. (Please see backgrounder.) He also pointed out that the prices that farmers receive for their products have not increased in 25 years. "The assertion that farmers are inefficient is incompatible with the reality that many of us are still able to produce despite receiving 1975 prices. Only those who can today produce and deliver their products at 1975 prices are qualified to lecture farmers on efficiency," said Wells.

NFU former Vice-President and Manitoba farmer Fred Tait explained farmer efficiency with reference to the production chain for bread. "In the bread production chain, you have farmers, millers who make flour, large baking companies that turn that flour into bread, and grocery store retailers. Over the past 25 years, the price of bread has tripled. Farmers received none of that money. That means that the very large transnationals that mill our flour, bake our bread, and run our grocery stores must have tripled what they charge for their services. In this case, and in nearly every other case in the agri-food production chain, it turns out that our relatively small family farms are the most efficient link, and the huge transnationals that control the rest of the chain are far less efficient."

NFU Executive member and Alberta farmer Jan Slomp suggested that the rising price of bread and other foods may indicate something else in addition to inefficiency on the part of large transnational processors and retailers. Those rising prices may reflect raw market power and a lack of competition. "Processors and retailers are taking huge profits out of the food system, squeezing farmers, and then making the false and convenient claim that farmers are ‘inefficient'," said Slomp.

NFU Women's Vice-President and Ontario farmer Colleen Ross stated: "You can spot the lies that they tell about farmers because many of the lies contradict each other. Government and corporate leaders tell the lie that farmers are inefficient. They then go on to tell the lie that prices are low as a result of overproduction. Can farmers really be inefficient and overproductive at the same time?" asked Ross.

NFU Board member-elect and Prince Edward Island farmer Ranald MacFarlane concluded the news conference by stating: "Inefficiency rhetoric is nothing more than a smokescreen: a propaganda tactic deployed against farm families, workers, and rural communities. Only by peeling away the myths and lies can we understand the rural crisis and begin to see who is destroying our farms."

The Farm Crisis, Bigger Farms, and the Myths of "Competition" and "Efficiency" is available on the NFU website ( www.nfu.ca ).

For More Information: Darrin Qualman National Farmers Union Phone (306) 652-9465 Fax (306) 664-6226