If McDonalds and A&W, Costco and Walmart can work together, why can’t we as farmers?

This week I had the amazing experience of acting as tour guide for the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef AGM Tour. The CRSB is an unprecedented initiative where stakeholders from the entire food chain have come together to define and improve beef sustainability in Canada. Stakeholders that have dedicated their time, effort and funds to this include Costco and Walmart, McDonalds and A&W, Producer Groups (Canadian Cattlemen’s Assn), wildlife groups (World Wildlife Federation) and packers (Cargill). It is an incredibly diverse group of people with diverse, and sometimes even divergent goals. 


             A common thread
As I chatted amongst these high level thinkers within competing industries I was struck by one overwhelming common thread. Each person there, each organization, was there for the sole purpose of making the beef industry (from the beginning, middle to end) not perfect, but BETTER. With so many opinions, and so many end goals, reaching each groups perfect goal is impossible. They each understand this fact, but it does not stop them from working together to make things BETTER. BETTER is not perfect, and it may never be, but it IS with working for. 

  What farmers can learn from this

My time recently spent on social media has been disparaging to the point of causing me to actively avoid Twitter. Agricultural in-fighting feels like it is at an all time high. Organic vs conventional, supply management vs export markets, big farms vs the little guy. It feels as though every sector of agriculture has backed itself into a protectionist corner, spitting mad and firing uncalled for shots at anyone that dares question them. 

So what would happen if we chose instead to put down the word cannons and focus on making things BETTER? Instead of ripping each other apart, we asked questions? What if we chose to stop the strive for perfection in our own section, and switched our focus to making all of Ag BETTER? Surely if McDonalds can work with A&W, then beef and dairy, organic and conventional, large and small can chose the same path. BETTER sounds good to me. Is BETTER enough for you? 



4 thoughts on “If McDonalds and A&W, Costco and Walmart can work together, why can’t we as farmers?

  1. What farmers can learn from this is that beef prices are determined before the auction, and fixed by collusion all the way to the consumer. Farmers have no say whatsoever in the price of beef.


    • That I cannot agree with Mike. While these key players were working together for a common goal, they were not exactly chummy!
      Also, the fat cattle price (which determines calf, cull and replacement prices) is much more set on a world stage. That being said, it IS important to have many market options – one of the many reasons I am so happy to have viable packers in both Canada and the USA, and COOL repealed. I would hate to lose either of our two main options in Western Canada, and the option to go south, they keep our market healthy!


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