At this time of writing, we have another Grade A/proAction inspection pending. The inspector arrives at 1 p.m. Everyone keep away!! This was originally scheduled for April 28 but it was postponed due to the pandemic. From our perspective, it could have just as easily been done then as now . . . and would have been more convenient.
This looming review had our family talking of the things we really dislike about the farming business. Not surprisingly, these inspections are one, along with trespassing, surveys and the Time Temperature Recorders (TTRs) required on all dairy farms.
Our biggest beef is with TTRs. It’s a useful machine, recording and alerting us to potential pipeline, bulk tank and hot water tank problems before they get out of hand. What irritates us is the requirement for the dairy farmer to keep a written paper record of the exact same thing! Plus, we have been warned the inspector will check the written copy to the TTR records to see if they agree. Why? To catch someone out? Pathetic!
The general record keeping required for the inspector is way out of hand . . . and getting worse. Pages and pages of it, plus corrective action procedures (CAPs) when things go wrong. Why? Do they really think we are stupid enough to want it to happen again and need to write it down?
But why is an inspection even needed for a farm like ours which routinely earns gold and merit Awards for quality milk production. We are obviously doing things rightly and nothing changes after an inspector’s visit. By the way, I say “earn” these awards as they were not handed out by our old milk committee unless you attend their annual meeting. Being a grass-fed, tie-stall Jersey farm, there was rarely anything of real interest to drag us off the farm, so we had to rely on our rep to grab our award and drop it in the mail box.
Trespassers are another big irritant, be they hikers, dog walkers, ATV/bikers, skiers, snowshoers, snowmobilers, horse riders, garlic or berry pickers, tree diggers, or pot growers. None bother to ask permission first and all figure that the bush land is unused and, therefore, unowned.
We had one neighbour, and I use the term very loosely, who called the police to report members of our local fire department hunting on our property and with our permission. After the officer used his siren to get them out of the bush, thus ruining their hunt on opening day, the truth came out. The woman walked her dogs and rode her horses in our bush land across from her property, deciding it was unused land, and didn’t want hunters on the land she used for recreation. Really? Unbelievable.
Some people, if they bothered to ask, we would give permission to go on our land for their specific purpose. Most, though, are a danger to themselves or an annoyance to us and our farm. So keep off. If you want land to run roughshod over then put your own money up front and buy some land and pay the annual property taxes on. We will not do it for you.
Lastly is the annoyance of surveys no matter whom they are from: The DFO, Stats Canada, independent companies, government, agricultural businesses, universities, etc. All ask me to take time out of my busy day to sit down and reply to often irrelevant and repetitive questions and for their benefit, not mine. No one reimburses me for my time, thought or energy, yet they get paid for collecting and compiling this free information. It is invariably requested at really poor times, such as April or May when field work calls. Haying and harvesting are two other bad times to be asked to fill out a survey.
We pick and choose as to what we reply to. The completed the two latest DFO surveys on milk quality and communications because we had something to say. For the first one, the biggest blockage to improving milk quality is the length of time it takes the DFO and its lab to get the test results back to the farmers. As for communications, there is way, way too much. We read little and scan headlines to determine relevancy to us and our operation.
I don’t know if these are pet peeves on other farms but they are here. If they could be changed, the stress levels would go down for all three of us but that is unlikely to happen any time soon.
Angela Dorie is an agricultural writer and a Jersey farmer near Cornwall.