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  • Case for Compassion
    By Tom VanDusen - AgriNews Staff Writer

    There comes a time when all dairying couples, no matter how dedicated, must exit the business.

    For John and Susanna Cayer, the time came about two years ago when they began planning for a life after farming. John's diverticulitis and a tailbone injury made it physically impossible to go on.

    Aware - as were all dairy farmers at the time - that DFO had implemented a 15-per-cent transfer assessment on quota sales, they went ahead and sold on the quota exchange. The dollar value of the 15 per cent assessment levied on them was $114,492, a big chunk of retirement funds to give up.

    The Cayers had also heard - as had all other dairymen and women - that DFO would consider medical and other compassionate exemptions to the transfer rule. The Cayers applied and were turned down cold and flat. John's ailments were typical job hazards not worthy of special consideration, DFO determined.

    Wrong move DFO, ruled the Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Tribunal, to which the couple appealed. As detailed elsewhere in this issue, the tribunal ruled the Cayer case "cries out for compassion".

    Vice-chair Gene Trotnam gave the marketing board 30 days to refund the amount by which the Cayers were shortchanged under the arbitrary transfer assessment.

    The Cayers were the first to go before the tribunal and win on this issue ... and they won't be the last. Many other exiting farmers will be lining up to take similar action, says Don Good, the Ottawa agricultural affairs lawyer who represented the Chesterville area couple.

    Good has another case moving forward and he says, at the time of the Cayer hearing, at least 40 other requests for compassion had been rejected by DFO.

    Whatever DFO hoped to accomplish through the transfer assessment - and the motive remains unclear - it's running into difficulty trying to do it on the backs of exiting dairy farmers.

    So let the ones genuinely being forced out by conditions they can't control go in peace, their reward for a job well done fully intact.

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