While other jurisdictions are known for their outlaw dairy farmers who insist on supplying people with raw milk, Manitoba, it seems, has “outlaw potato farmers”. What is the world coming to, when a farmer can’t even grow and sell something as basic as potatoes, of all things, without the sanction of some trade organization? And yet, perhaps this is just the micro-scale manifestation of governments giving their power away to the likes of GATT, NAFTA, WTO, and other trans-national unelected power brokers. So here’s a glimpse into the life of one Manitoba potato farmer who was turned into an outlaw by a change of marketing regulations in the middle of the growing season [what were they thinking?]. Thanks for this story to Crampton’s Market (in Winnipeg, Manitoba), and to Beverley and Lois (who told us about it) — “Bad News for Manitoba Potato Eaters…. and Growers“:
“We were supposed to receive 2 more deliveries of those beautiful small new crop potatoes this week. That was before Peak of the Market served my farmer with a cease and desist order. The farmer ignored the papers served to him at first. Then Peak of the Market lawyers showed up at his door with fines unless he stopped marketing his potato crop. This left him with the choice of harvesting the crop to give away to foodbanks, or to destroy the potato crop. The purported fine was for lot of money so my potato farmer destroyed some of his fields by tilling them up, and harvested the remainder of the crop, delivering it to a hutterite colony nearby.
So right you you are probably wondering what the FRICK is going on!! I’ll bet that you all thought that Peak of the Market supported small Manitoba farmers, that is what is implied in their TV commercials. Here’s the scoop.
Peak of the Market legally controls potato production in Manitoba. Until this year, farmers who did not grow potatoes for Peak of the Market were allowed to grow 4 acres of potatoes to sell on their own. This year Peak of the Market changed the rules as of July 15th. Now farmers are not allowed to grow potatoes to sell unless they have a Peak of the Market quota and sell only to Peak of the Market. This includes small gardeners who wish to sell at farmers markets, as well as farmers who wish to sell to independent grocery stores like mine. It is now illegal to grow and sell your own potatoes in Manitoba. Peak of the Market has the legal authority to fine farmers who break these rules, and the fines are high.
Because I still want to purchase potatoes from local small independant farmers, I will no longer be posting where our potatoes come from, and I will be telling neither my staff nor my customers the names of the farmers who produce them. This is to protect these growers from Peak of the Market legal action.
Here’s the kicker. It is legal for these local farmers to import potatoes from BC, Alberta, Ontario, or the US for resale. But they can’t legally grow their own potato crops to sell.
This action by Peak of the Market to protect their monopoly outrages me. But every action of theirs has been legal! You should be mad too. WRITE TO YOUR MLA, click the link below to find your MLA’s contact details”
This story is also reprinted and commented on here, on NewWinnipeg.com
Comments from that posting:
Eastsider: Thats total bull, and I know that for a fact. My brother works for a 4000 acre potato farm in southern MB, they have a contract with McCain’s, NOT Peak Of The Market. I know theres at least 3 other large potato farms out there, I cannot speak for those but I definitely know about Suderman Bros Farms near Winkler. And to even suggest they are being forced to destroy crops is laughable at best.
Shaynelle: Sorry, my bad. I meant to say this is a newsletter from Crampton’s market. Like I said, I’m sure this isn’t the whole story but I can’t imagine them lying about this. Whichever it is, I hope it comes out in the news and soon. I can’t imagine a news cast not wanting to do a story on this (if there is indeed truth to it).
Eastsider: Just to confirm what I said I phoned my brother after supper……Suderman Bros Farms definitely sells about 60% of their crop to McCains @ Portage La Prairie, the remaining 40% is sold to the USA market. Southern Potato, another large outfit in southern MB has contracts with Old Dutch Potato Chips, Hostess Foods, Naleway Foods,Peak Of The Market, and the remainder is sold to the USA.He said they have set contracts written up prior to spring seeding, if they are unable to fulfill the quota on the contract they have to purchase potatos from other farms to make up the shortfall. He has never not ever heard of anyone having to destroy their crops, and POM definitely does not have the Manitoba Monopoly on spuds. Someone better get their facts right before they defame a fine company like POM.
And now, here’s a story on the same issue from a mainstream news outlet, the Winnipeg Free Press, titled “Peak of the Market, potato farmer square off“, by Bartley Kives:
“A small Manitoba potato farmer claims he’s being forced underground by rules that re quire all provincial spuds to be sold through Peak of the Market.
Now Schriemer claims he’s been warned not to sell potatoes anywhere, not even at the farmers’ markets, small groceries and roadside stands where he says he sells most of his product.
“Technically, they’re covered under the regulations. Historically we haven’t worried about farmers’ markets because it’s a small acreage,” McIntosh said. “I can’t speculate until I meet with my board, but we’re not going to do anything to put out the local producer. We want to do what’s best for the industry as a whole.”