No markets for small-scale farmers: Smith

Cory
Cory Hurley
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CORNER BROOK  The small-scale farmer is being forced out of business in western Newfoundland, says Cyril Smith.

The Cormack farmer said the markets are being depleted, and a lot of it is because of the treatment of farmers.

Smith has been embroiled in a long-standing dispute with the City of Corner Brook about increased fees he faced in continuing to provide a market in the city for more than 20 years.

He has twice been fined in provincial court for operating without the proper permit, because he did not agree with what he considered too high a price to set up his market. This year the fee was $1,500 — $1,000 more than the year before.

Just last week, Smith was fined $400 in court for operating without a permit last year. He purposefully did so hoping to raise awareness of the issue, and hopefully make a change in the city policy.

“Municipalities have to welcome people into their community,” he said. “You can’t put things in place to discourage people from coming in — no matter what the product they are selling, whether it is food or fish, rabbits or whatever.”

Unfortunately, he said other municipalities are also increasing fees for vendors and markets. It is having a significant affect on the small-scale farmers.

“We are growing quite a bit of stuff — a lot of it is left in the field, never sent to market, because we have no market,” Smith said.

The farmer also claims municipalities are not interested in having farmers markets in their towns or cities.

“Farming. We are at the point now where we are parking on the sides of roads and out peddling,” he said. “That’s all right for a man who is at it for a hobby or a bit of under the table income. For the man who wants to set up a market, like I did on O’Connell Drive for 22 years, that’s not farming.”

The super markets have opened up to a “couple” of the larger local producers, according to Smith, but it is still not an option for the small-scale farmer. While they want large volumes, they are also offering low prices, he said.

The farmer said it is time for agencies such as the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Agriculture to set in and help the situation.

Organizations: Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Agriculture

Geographic location: CORNER BROOK, Newfoundland

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  • John Wellon
    September 05, 2013 - 09:35

    As long as it is not costing the taxpayers anything we should consider it a blessing that people like Cryil Smith come into our town to sell fresh produce, not to set up barriers to keep them out Why should there be fees for someone willing to provide us with fresh locally produced products , usually at a cheaper cost and higher quality than imported items. .

  • Henry
    September 05, 2013 - 09:30

    City of Corner brook fees must be fair and when assessing road side vendors. I am not sure why fees have increased to$1,500.00 from $500.00. It probably has to do with our city council setting budgets each year and unfortunately the cash strapped city sees roadside vendors as easy targets for additional revenues. No easy fix here. These businesss compete with permament business in our city whom pay a fixed business tax. I suggest seasonal roadside business in the city pay a fixed reasonal fee or pay assessments based on % of revenues earned in the city from prior years revenues. Out of town peddlers must understand that the city operates under revenues derived form property owners and business owners etc.. and they must help pay for our infrastructure which is badly in need of repairs especially in our local neighborhoods where streets need new pavemend and curbs.... Sorry no freebees in this city.

  • Jack
    September 05, 2013 - 07:06

    That's because city and town councils throughout Newfoundland and Labrador would rather have large packing and food processing companies like Tyson, Monsanto, and Maple Leaf Foods influence their decisions as opposed to local farmers. Its already happening in America due to a fact that many politicians have current or previous ties to these food giants, and now its happening here.