Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Striks lose appeal

Rene and Bianca Strik, immigrants from Holland,  have had a rude awakening about Ontario's supply-management system for dairy farming.

They have lost their appeal to get all of the milk quota they thought they would get when they bought a dairy farm in 2010.

They got 24 kilograms less than the 105 they thought they would get because the Dairy Farmers of Ontario marketing board capped quota prices at $25,000 per kilogram and their deal had them paying $30,000 per kilogram.

They were under pressure to accept the amended deal because they had sold their farm in the Netherlands, had converted their money from Euros to dollars and were immigrating with four young children.

They said that losing the 24 kilograms has left them short of income they were counting on, but the tribunal said they don’t seem to be cash-strapped because they spent $2 million fixing the barn and building a new house, $200,000 to buy eight kilograms of quota on the milk board’s exchange and $3 million to buy a neighbouring farm and its 40 kilograms of quota.

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food Tribunal wrote in its decision posted on the internet this week that:

“The Tribunal acknowledges the significant challenges experienced by the Striks and the stress and uncertainty that the circumstances created in their personal and business lives. 

“However, the Tribunal finds that the circumstances described by the Striks were not unique, extraordinary or exceptional. Nor were the circumstances outside of their control. 

The Striks went ahead with the purchase of the farm with full knowledge of the lower amount of quota associated with the farm. 

“The Striks did not avail themselves of conditions in the agreements for the sale of their farm in Holland and the purchase of Mr. Y’s farm in Canada that would have allowed them to back out of either deal.

“They did not verify with the DFO the amount of quota available, nor did they wait for written confirmation from the DFO. They received an abatement on the purchase price of Mr. Y’s farm for the reduced amount of quota.

“They provided no written evidence to support their claim that they were “cash-strapped” and made at least $5 million dollars in investments after the conclusion of the sale.

“The Striks have not proven circumstances that warrant an exemption from the DFO policy. The Tribunal agrees with the DFO decision not to grant an exemption in these circumstances.”

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