Westmeath, ON: The closure of the Kellogg Co. plant in London announced last week is the latest of several Canadian food processing plants closed by investors to move production to other countries in pursuit of higher profits reports Tony Straathof, President of the Renfrew County (Ontario) Farmers Union.
Upon hearing the news the big concern for Renfrew County family farms is its spillover effects on the whole supply chain from agriculture (farmers) to agricultural services to consumers and to rural communities.
Kellogg Company is a Michigan-based food maker which has had a successful operation of 89 years at the London, Ontario location. Reports indicate that the move is part of a four year global restructuring plan which will possibly involve the closure of an Australian snack factory and a manufacturing facility in Thailand expanded.
The local producers of corn and certain grains who supplied the operation will be greatly affected as they will lose their local market. Those producers will be forced to look at the export market with probably lower returns. Already this fall, corn farmers have faced lower than cost of production returns. In addition, not only will those farmers probably be receiving less for their product but they will have to almost certainly pick up the tab for the transportation to move their corn/grain to other processing facilities.
For some 89 years, Kelloggs supplied Canadian consumers with healthy and safe ready to eat cereals, Corn Flakes, All Bran, Muslix and other snacks.
Straathof added, “This just doesn’t make sense to move a company just for the sake of higher profits. Free trade deals just make it easier for the out-of-country food makers to pick up local processing facilities, leaving our farmers with no local market for their corn and grain. Our consumers in the future may have to accept a product which may not meet the same health and safety standards – let alone taking into consideration from where that product has to travel to get here – where is Canada’s policy for food sovereignty.”
In closing, Straathof summed it up, the closure of Kellogg’s Co. of London and the Heinz ketchup plant in Leamington have created a climate of despair at this Christmas season for family farms and the plant workers. It is more important than ever that as farmers we stand together in support of our local Canadian food producers, local Canadian markets and local Canadian consumers. For those off-shore agri-food mega companies “local” simply doesn’t matter – they go to where they get the cheapest product and labour. The Ontario NFU is constantly lobbying our policy makers in support of food sovereignty.
Straathof concluded, “Just two weeks ago during our NFU Annual Convention in Ottawa, the NFU met with M.P.s on Parliament Hill to deliver our message. I see that we in the NFU will have a lot more work to do in the New Year at both the Federal and Provincial level to get our message across.”
Tony Straathof 613-587-4343