Farmers Losing Control – Action Needed

Farmers are growing increasingly concerned about the amount of control they are giving up to seed and chemical
companies in the contracts that are required when purchasing seed that are frequently part of seed/chemical
bundles. Bob Friesen, FNA-STAG CEO says, “It used to be that a seed company would compete for your
business and treat you like a customer”, Friesen says. “Now, they have contracts that threaten to never sell to
you again. This is an issue that is making a lot of farmers very nervous. It’s submission by intimidation.”
One particular agreement identifies the right of the company to undertake a complete audit of the grower. Terry
Hildebrandt, founding and former President of APAS says, “The only reason that I can see why farmers would
give the seed company the opportunity to audit their farm is if they don’t have any other choice.” “Why would or
should any farmer ever have to open their books to any supply company?” Hildebrandt continued.
As seed/chemical companies consolidate even further, farmers will have fewer and fewer options. According to a
recent study by Phillip Howard from Michigan State University, Monsanto alone has acquired over 50 companies
in the last 12 years. When consumers, producers and other in the sector started to get upset at how consolidated
the industry was getting, Monsanto side-stepped mergers and acquisitions and started using licensing agreements
instead. The article references that Monsanto even has licensing agreements with direct competitors BASF, Dow,
Syngenta, DuPont and Bayer.
Given the trend toward more and more control, the hope that the large seed and chemical companies will stop
now is delusion. “They want it all,” says Friesen. “Farmers will become mere serfs.” Hildebrandt adds to the call
to action, suggesting that “Although some would argue it’s too late already, farmers need to speak-up and take
back control of what happens on their farm.”
FNA-STAG encourages farmers to work together with their general farm organization to lobby on their behalf.
“The issue of a lack of competition is obviously a concern when powerful corporate interests can exercise this
much control on Canadian producers,” states Greg Marshall, APAS President. “This issue has come up more
than once at our meetings and on coffee row – and it must be addressed by the committed and collective efforts of
all farmers and all farm groups.”
FNA-STAG and others call on governments and the Competition Bureau to hold hearings in the country to hear
from farmers what is going on. As a first step, we encourage the government to adopt recommendation 2.2 and
2.3 from the House of Commons Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food’s third report on the
“Competitiveness of Canadian Agriculture”.
FNA-STAG is also calling on the government to ensure it dedicates an adequate amount of public scientific
research that is market-based and has the best interests of farmers in mind. An additional 28 million a year for the
next 10 years, as suggested by the Farmers for Investment in Agriculture, would be a good start.
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Farmers of North America Strategic Agriculture Institute (FNA-STAG) is a not-for-profit organization with the single
mission of “Improving Farm Profitability.”
For more information contact:
Bob Friesen, CEO: (613) 230-2222 / (613) 852-9711