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.