Tobacco to Fish: It's a Long Way To Go

July 1 st 1989

Ontario's tobacco industry is faced with large scale reductions as a result of effective anti-smoking campaigns. Consequently, the number of Ontario tobacco growers has shrunk from 2,600 seven years ago to 1,700 today. The price of tobacco farms has dwindled accordingly. One farmer reported that a farm complete with a tobacco quota worth $1 million in 1982 is now worth only $150,000. But some farmers are coping by switching to a different product, reports Diane Francis of The Financial Post.

"Mickey" Murphy, a widow who has started a fish farm with her son Michael in the Delhi, Ontario area, has invested heavily in building tanks and other necessary equipment. Starting with a young fish stock four years ago, the Murphys are looking forward to harvesting 125,000 rainbow trout. They expect to make brisk sales and profits by selling to nearby restaurants, stock ponds and other outlets. A byproduct of this unusual farming method is fish "manure," which is an excellent substitute for chemical fertilizers. The Murphys plan to use this manure to grow organic vegetables which fetch a considerably higher price than those grown with chemicals.

It has been difficult and costly, but the Murphys are confident this switchover will save the family farm and earn them a good living. If successful, this example of making a transition in the face of changing market conditions underscores the possibilities in an open society and a free economy. One can only wish the Murphys well. (See Diane Francis "Her Switch from 'Sin' Crop to Fish Not Overnight Task", Financial Post, May 29, 1989.)


Harry Antonides came to Canada in 1948, initially working as a farm hand and railway labourer. After over a decade working in a chemical plant in Sarnia, Ontario, Harry joined the newly forming Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC) in 1962 as a field representative. By 1970 Harry became director of research and education. In 1974, he was a founding member of the Work Research Foundation (now Cardus) and publisher of their sole publication, Comment magazine. A prolific writer and dynamic speaker, Harry delivered lectures all over North America and published numerous articles, reviews, and essays. He is author of several books on Christianity, labour, and economics, including Multinationals and the Peacable Kingdom (1978) and Stones for Bread: The Social Gospel and its Contemporary Legacy (1985). Harry is retired and lives with his wife Janet in Willowdale, Ontario.