Monday 19 April 2010

Ceasefire in the spud wars

After some very bad press for Peak of the Market, with the comments section on every story I saw vehemently against Peak's behaviour, Peak has backed down. Writes the Potato Coalition:
The agreement includes:
  • A complete 5 acre exemption for small potato producers
  • A complete 1 acre exemption for small root crop producers
  • Growers under these exemptions may sell year round to all Farmers Markets, small independent retail, road side stands and restaurants.
  • This is a complete exemption that will require no permits or regulatory procedures from Peak of the Market.
  • The parties will meet in consultation to discuss any future issues
Unfortunately, my prior links to the Potato Coalition's blog are now broken; they've taken down all of their old content.

I wonder if Peak was scared they'd lose their cartel position over this. Allowing a small competitive fringe avoids some bad press while ensuring that any of those less-than-5-acre growers can never grow into a real competitive threat without joining the cartel.

Update: Erin has more here.
A group of farmers, retailers, and other concerned parties got together about 3 weeks ago to fight the crippling regulations. We formed the Potato Coalition of Manitoba, and I was a part of the main organizing committee. I have just spent a VERY busy 3 weeks in meetings, working with farmers to hear their concerns, and writing up a proposal for Peak. We received immense public support, which we believe forced Peak's hand. We met with Peak of the Market on Friday at 1 pm, where after a 20 minute meeting, Peak agreed to repeal the current regulations, advise to Marketing council to enact new regulations that are much more open, and agreed to work with our group, me specifically, to re-write the regulations to be more inclusive.

I am beyond thrilled with the response that we received and am very much hoping that this decision on the part of Peak will usher in a new era of Marketing Boards working to support small farmers. I am thrilled that you the public who has less of a personal stake in this issue spent time writing to the minister and the powers that be as really this is what forced the hand of change.
And she points to a few looming issues:
The province of Manitoba in a misguided attempt make our food system "safer" may soon be disallowing farmers from keeping their potato seed. This will of course, reduce the number of varieties of potatoes available, and thus reduce agricultural biodiversity in the province.

The province of Manitoba is also attempting to shut down the elk farming business in Manitoba, once again in a misguided attempt to make our food system "safer"
Manitoba visitors to New Zealand, especially the farm folks where I grew up, would do well to see the paddocks of farmed deer here being raised....


  1. .. your parents named their kids Eric and Erin?

  2. That's always bothered her; hasn't bothered me. Perhaps its more embarrassing being associated with me than vice versa. Parents claim it never occurred to them on naming her that the names might be a bit close together.

  3. I think that's really funny! Your sister steaming because she shares a name so close to her brother, and you good with it :)

    Too bad she never took up economics. It would be kinda funny to see both names as co-authors on an economic paper (like 2 peas in a pod).

    I work with a guy called James Harris and we're forever getting emails / phone calls and even invoices sent to the other. To make things worse, we used to work in the same team together.

  4. Erin wouldn't put up well with academia. I'd put fair odds on one year before she'd bring a machine gun to Faculty meetings. Me, I just shout a bit.