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The Family Farm cover photo

The Family Farm 2015

Highly Recommended

Distributed by Green Planet Films, PO Box 247, Corte Madera, CA 94976-0247; 415-377-5471
Produced by Ari A. Cohen for Rotating Planet Productions
Directed by Ari A. Cohen
DVD, color, 88 min.

Middle School - General Adult
Agriculture, Farming, Global Trade

Date Entered: 07/05/2016

Reviewed by Cliff Glaviano, formerly with Bowling Green State University Libraries, Bowling Green, OH

This film will be most interesting to Canadians and students in Canadian Studies. The agricultural content deals with small farms in Canada: specialized meat farming, and niche marketing; small-scale egg and poultry farming; organic produce and fruit farming. Generally, small farms and ranches are adversely affected by Canadian federal regulations on meat inspection and underground mineral rights, and local regulations such as quota systems set and maintained by autonomous provincial Egg Boards and Milk Boards. For example, meat cannot be sold to Canadian restaurants and markets unless it has been federally inspected. Most specialized bison, pork and beef operations are too small to warrant federal inspection, so Canadian consumers most often are forced to buy “factory farm” meat. Specialized meats are sold in local farmers markets.

Egg Board quotas set to maintain high egg prices that were once free to farmers now sell for thousands of dollars and are unaffordable to small farmers. Only the largest of Canadian produce farmers can compete on price with imported produce which is often subject to less stringent regulation of pesticide use. Small-scale and organic produce farmers again are forced to sell their crops in local farmers markets. The result of this regulatory strangulation results in small farms selling their products at local farmers markets. It’s no surprise that more than 50% of small-scale farmers in Canada work additional jobs to get by.

With no consideration of comparative nutritional value of food products, it’s small-scale versus large-scale farms in the Canadian marketplace. Competing on price alone, the scales are firmly tipped in favor of industrial farms and imported foodstuffs. A further complication in oil producing provinces is that mineral rights are controlled by the federal government. One Manitoba farmer’s fight to keep an oil company from locating a well on his prime farmland has him convinced that, “a landowner has no right to determine what happens on the surface of his farmland.”

The Family Farm is highly recommended. This beautifully filmed video gives the viewer an intimate portrait of the motivations and frustrations of the Canadian farmer. Though they love to farm, family farmers are being forced out of business by factory farms and over-regulation. Few children in farming families wish to carry on with the work of the family farm.