My name is Justin Williams and I am working on becoming an eighth-generation farmer. Our family has been farming since 1814.
I am very happy to be here with you today.
About 12 years ago, I started my own maple syrup business in order to diversify the farm a little bit. Currently, we have dairy, as well as crop farming, and in the last couple of years, we've had the maple syrup business.
With decreasing margins, the younger generations are having to work harder to pay off the debts from previous generations, such as my grandparents who were paying off debts from their fathers. When I take over the farm, I'll be paying off debts that my dad has acquired, even from his grandfather.
Higher debt on farm business has led to less gifting of farms. In previous generations, generally the farm was gifted from the father down to the son or daughter, but now, with increasing debts, it's a business transaction and young farmers are having to pay more in order to acquire the farm from previous generations. Increasing debts for farmers has also meant increases in stresses, both for the previous generations, as well as for younger farmers getting into agriculture.
As Paul mentioned, the economy of scale is variable by commodity. In dairy, I have supply management and these sectors are minimally affected by economy of scale because price paid to the producer is stabilized due to the controlling of supply based on the demand of the consumers. Due to supply management, these sectors of agriculture more easily handle the highs and lows of the economy, without requiring government programs.
With increasing use of technology in agriculture, it is ever more important for farmers to further their education, as mentioned in the previous session. As well, they need to continue to network with sectors within agriculture, whether it be their own sectors or other forms of agriculture. Technology is greatly increasing in the use of tractors and what we're using in the barns to collect data on the animals, as well as for controlling debt.
We'd like to thank you for inviting us here today and we'd like to leave lots of time for questions afterwards.