Is Supply Management Really on the Table?

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Just when you think you know someone. Open the paper yesterday and it appears that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has offered up the supply management industry in negotiations to allow Canada to be apart of the TPP.

I made several calls to members involved with the dairy lobby and trade and the feelings are strongly in the camp of surprise for supply management to be on the table. When I read the paper this morning my first thought was that Mr. Harper’s comments were made to get into a party (being TPP). An empty promise so to speak.

The Dairy Farmers of Canada were very clear to me that Mr. Harper has repeatedly stated that supply management is not up for negotiation.

Personally last week I heard federal ag-minister Gerry Ritz stated to a group in Calgary that supply management is different and not on the table.  In fact Mr. Ritz joked about how farmers get $0.25 for a $4.00 glass of milk and waiters want a 25% tip, who is the problem?  The crowd laughed.

It would appear that either Harper is trying to revolutionize agriculture in Canada by forgetting campaign promises or he is great at poker by bluffing the international trade community to gain entrance into TPP talks.

Asian trade is very critical to Canada and with last weeks Keystone Pipeline incident with the US, Canada has proof that it needs to focus on Asia. Kathleen Sullivan, Executive Director of CAFTA stated to me that,

Canada needs to be doing something in Asia.  Our opportunities are with South Korea and the TPP.  Canada needs to be at the party.”

From my discussion with Kathleen and others the consensus was that the structure of the quota system will not be touched but rules on imports may be tinkered with to satisfy the US and others.

The TPP provides the opportunity to access Asia but does supply management have to be sacrificed?  At this point from what I am hearing it won’t be.

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