From the time I wake up in the morning until the moment I shut my eyes at the end of the day, I think about eggs. You see, farming has been part of my family for generations. Our farm – New York Colony – is just east of Lethbridge, and we’ve been farming since our colony was established in 1924.
I started working on the farm in the laying barn when I was about 7 years old, where I would collect eggs by hand after school. Even with the chores, I very much enjoyed being in the barn.
I liked listening to the sound of the hens chirping, and making sure they had plenty of feed and water. Every night, my now 90 year old grandfather would ask me how many eggs I collected. When I told him with excitement, his lips always curved into a warm smile.
Now, many years later and still working with my grandfather, caring for the hens and producing a fresh, nutritious product brings me a sense of pride each and every day.
As my responsibilities grew on the farm and I took on new roles, I learned more about the operation and the industry. Nowadays I’m the manager of our egg operation and I have taken on the role of Vice-Chair of the Egg Farmers of Alberta Board of Directors.
A few weeks ago the EFC blog Why trade matters to egg farmers was shared with me. After reading it, I was inspired to think more about what international trade means to our farm and industry.
Canadian egg farmers, like me, have an important trade story to share. We operate under a domestic policy called supply management. Through the system of supply management, farmers follow a set of rules that help make sure a constant supply of fresh, high-quality eggs are available to Canadians, and because of this receive a fair return.
Supply management brings benefits to Canadian consumers and farmers alike. Consumers get local products, while the system provides stability at home. This helps makes it possible for other agriculture industries to pursue trade opportunities. As a result of this stability, farmers like me can continuously reinvest in our farms and give back to the communities we call home.
When it was time to renovate and retool our barn last year we decided to install a state of the art furnished housing system for our laying hens. This investment was possible because I can count on a steady income from our egg operation—and now, our operation is more efficient and sustainable.
So in short, supply management is a good story. It’s my story. And, it’s why trade matters to me!
Levi Hofer, Alberta egg farmer
Levi is a 3rd generation egg farmer from Lethbridge, Alberta. He is the Vice-Chair of Egg Farmers of Alberta and a participant in Egg Farmers of Canada’s young farmer program.