This little piggy goes to market : the Ontario hog producers and the development of controlled marketing
Rombouts, Robert Anthony
Master of Arts
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Imagine being a wheat farmer, working against unpredictable forces to produce grain for the commercial market. You wonder if the weather will co-operate to provide you with good planting, growing and harvesting conditions, and enable you to pay enough to the bank to ensure that it will not foreclose on your account and force you to lose everything. You take your grain to the elevator, located many miles away, to accept whatever price the grain company will pay you. Or imagine being a hog farmer, dealing with similarly harsh conditions, unsure as to whether your herd may be wiped out by disease and fearful the domestic or international market may turn against your product. As you send your hogs to market, you, and thousands of farmers like you, are forced to accept the price offered by the few meat-packing companies that dominate the market. These are the very problems Canadian farmers faced throughout much of their history. What options did farmers have? Urban workers could unionize and negotiate with management, but with what management were farmers to negotiate? And how would you bring all the farmers together around one goal, if they, unlike factory workers, did not congregate daily in one place? Canadian farmers experimented with several different methods of dealing with these problems, from becoming actively involved in politics to establishing voluntary co-operatives and finally, through lobbying the federal and provincial governments to create compulsory marketing boards, akin to workers unions. Some of these attempts were successful, while others resulted in failure and disappointment for farmers.