2017 Soybean Harvest

2017 Soybean Harvest

Monday, June 27, 2011

Appeal Tribunal allows partial transfer of dairy quota from son back to father

Steven Baes is a dairy farmer.  Adjacent to his dairy operation is another dairy farm owned by a corporation called Baeverdale Farms Ltd. The owners of the farm corporation are Steven's father and mother, Leon and Bernadette Baes, and his brother and sister-in-law, Michael and Melissa Baes.  In 1994, Leon Baes transferred approximately 11 kgs of quota to his son Steven in an effort to get him started in dairy farming. The elder Mr. Baes' transfer arrangement was that in the event of any changes in Steven's circumstances, the quota would be returned to the father for his own dairy operation which is now Baeverdale Farms Ltd. (Baeverdale).

Steven subsequently purchased additional quota for his own dairy farm operation.  According to Baeverdale, a similar verbal agreement was made to transfer such additional quota to the family held operation should Steven ever run into problems in the future or decide to leave the dairy business.  Over the years some quota was returned to the father.  Steven Baes requested an exemption from DFO's policy to allow him to transfer all of his remaining quota to Baeverdale, and to allow the merger of the quota under one licence.  The Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO) denied the request to transfer the quota.  Baes appealed to the Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Appeal Tribunal.

DFO contended that the proposed transfer was not permitted under the current quota transfer policy, saying that this type of transfer has not been allowed since 2006.  The DFO witness outlined three alternative options for the transfer of quota:
1.  Baes could sell his quota on the exchange, and Baeverdale could buy quota from the exchange, recognizing this would be a slow accumulative process.
2.  Baes could transfer his quota to Baeverdale and Baeverdale could continue to operate two different barns with two different licences. This would prevent the merger of the quota to operate under one licence.
3.  Baes could sell his quota and Baeverdale could sell their dairy farm and buy a dairy farm with more quota if they wanted a larger dairy operation.
The Tribunal ruled that two different amounts of quota were in play in this case.  First, there was quota initially bought by the father and transferred to the son in 1994.  Second, there was quota purchased by the son directly from the exchange and not part of the original transfer from the father. 

The Tribunal found that the son had actually begun to transfer back quota to his father beginning in 2003 pursuant to their agreement, prior to the DFO policy changes that now prohibit the transfer of quota.  Of 11 kg in total first transferred by the father, 7 kg had already been returned.  The Tribunal determined:
The uniqueness as it applies to this situation is that it involved a transfer back agreement made in 1994, which DFO accepts; and it is shown to have been an ongoing transfer back since 2003 only interrupted by DFO's policy change in 2006. Such a transfer back between the parties would have been allowed under policies prior to 2006, and the appellant and his father anticipated that this policy would continue. To the Tribunal Panel's knowledge, there have been no cases before the DFO Board that involved a son to father transfer that had its original transfer agreement prior to 2006 and had been in the process of being completed.  The uniqueness and extenuating aspect in this case is that it involved a verbal agreement between the father and son that predates the limiting policy change by 12 years, and was in the ongoing process of completion.
On this basis, the Tribunal permitted the completion of the transfer back to the father that was contemplated in the original 1994 agreement.  This transfer back was limited to the quota that was originally transferred from father to son.  It cannot include the quota that was purchased by the son on the exchange.
Read the decision: Steven Baes vs. Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO).