Andrew Campbell urges producers from coast to coast to become supply management champions.
By Brett Ruffell
You’ll notice this issue has an international feel to it. While Canada is a global poultry leader, we thought it’d be interesting to look abroad for ideas and innovations.
In our cover story (pg. 12), for example, producer and veterinarian Lloyd Weber makes the case for adopting the deep litter approach many U.S. producers employ.
But while global markets present opportunities to learn new ways to enhance your farming business, they also present challenges. Indeed, especially when trade agreements are being negotiated.
And as countries vie for greater access to Canada’s egg and poultry markets, it inevitably brings out the usual supply management critics – a handful of politicians and media figures who have a prominent platform to get their message out but who often have their facts wrong.
The events around the most recent trade talks underscore the need for more individual producers to stand up for the system and its benefits. That was the message speaker Andrew Campbell delivered at the Western Poultry Conference, which was recently held in Red Deer, Alta.
“If we want public as well as continued government support for the system, we as an entire industry have to be part of the solution in making sure that message gets out,” says Campbell, who presented “Become a Supply Management Champion” at the event.
The Strathroy, Ont., native has a unique combination of skills. Raised a dairy farmer, he studied journalism and covered agriculture news for a while.
When he eventually returned to the farm, he continued to use his communications skills. He began advocating not just for the dairy industry but for agriculture as a whole through writing and speaking engagements.
Campbell notes that, especially as supply-managed industries, dairy and poultry farming share many of the same principles. He speaks to both audiences regularly, and has been delivering his message about championing the system to poultry and egg groups from coast to coast in recent months.
Campbell acknowledges that marketing boards do a great job of communicating why supply management is important for their industries, rural communities and consumers.
That said, he feels too many farmers rely on advertising campaigns and newspaper op-eds to get the job done on their behalf. While he knows firsthand how busy producers are, he believes each one has a responsibility to help support supply management.
How? For one, he says farmers can reach a broad audience through social media if they use it effectively. As examples of strong advocacy on Twitter, he recommends following dairy farmers Bruce Sargent (@FarmBoyProd) and Tim May (@MayMayhaven).
But to Campbell, producers can have the biggest impact simply by talking to people in their community about supply management, whether it’s at the golf course, place of worship or a family dinner. “Those one-on-one conversations can be really impactful,” he says.
To win over the public, critics often paint supply-managed industries as small ‘cartels’ making a fortune off the backs of Canadians. To counter this tactic, Campbell says producers should emphasize the impact their industry has on the local economy.
“We’ve got a whole bunch of people helping us reach our goals that we’re, in turn, supporting through our business,” he says. “And without supply management how successful are some of those?”
Citing Alberta as an example, he says there are only about 1,000 poultry and dairy farmers in the province. However, research shows supply management creates thousands of jobs. “We as farmers need to know where to get that information so we can have it in our back pocket.”