John Walker was a dairy farmer, a tobacco farmer, a poultry farmer, a cattle sales operator, a major cattle exporter, and a willing supporter to others in his industry. He is best known for his international sales of cattle, and his monthly local sales. He is less well known as a major leader in the livestock export community, collaborating and cooperating with his competitors to further the industry and Canadian exports. To those closer to him he has been a major source of help and advice in getting into, and staying in, successful farming.
John began working in the ‘50s with little education, and started dealing in horses and heifers. He did well enough as a heifer dealer to buy the Aylmer, Ontario, sale barn in 1958. He sold it soon after and began holding monthly sales at his own farm. He then got into export, first to the USA, but later to Mexico, Korea, China, Singapore, Australia, Iran, Cuba, The Netherlands, England, Germany and elsewhere. An excellent collaborator, he worked together with other exporters on many contracts, especially large orders of several thousand head.
Mr. Walker always wanted to be a dairy farmer, and focused on commercial production rather than pedigree breeding. An early adopter of large-scale dairying in Canada, he milked over 200 head in the 1970s and by 2007 milked 500 head. He helped his family to set up their own farms too, and together they milk 700 head at a separate operation. A strong believer in supply management, the family also keeps 200,000 broilers, and some swine.
John Walker was one of the founding members of the Canadian Livestock Export Association, and continues in a leading role in its successor, the Canadian Livestock Genetics Association.
In support of his export sales, and consistent with his helpful attitude to his family and friends, Mr. Walker went out of his way to ensure that small farmers who bought from him knew how to profit from their investment. For over 20 years, he and his Mexican associate, Rodolfo Martinez, taught basic management and dairying skills through the Fundación Mexicana Para el Desarrollo Rural, a volunteer organization supporting poor farmers in that country.