Alberta Dairy Farmers Respond to Supply Management Criticism

Only days ago it was Canada Day; a day to celebrate our country and embrace all things Canadian. Some think of poutine, but I, and the thousands of other dairy and poultry farms, celebrate our truly Canadian supply management system. It’s how I feed my family, how I feed my country and how I help support 250,000 Canadian jobs.

Apparently Mr. Al Mussell of the George Morris Centre isn’t as patriotic about our system as I am. That being said, Mr. Mussell’s arguments about supply management are refreshingly informed compared to many economists. However, I must reject his suggestion of reducing tariffs.

Tariffs are a pillar to ensuring our product stays proudly Canadian. If those were to be removed or decreased, it would distort the premise of supply management. If I were to remove the chicken from chicken noodle soup, can I still call it chicken noodle soup, despite it only having noodles and broth? No, you can’t.

Mussell eludes in his paper that farmers would be inclined to dismantle supply management themselves after tariffs are reduced. Something you should know about us farmers is that we are very happy with our system because it works for us and all Canadians. But, as Mr. Bob Seguin, of the same George Morris Centre, rightly says, we work on making it better every day!

We need to look at the big picture. I count over 10 trade agreements that have successfully completed. I have confidence that our Government will stand behind our farmers and ensure that a fair deal is made, as they have in the past. I know they appreciate that we don’t take a penny of their tax dollars to subsidize our farms during bust times. The American Government is not so lucky. Perhaps that’s why they are looking to incorporate a supply management element in their new Farm Bill.

We have developed a website, www.yourmilk.ca that helps clarify some myths that Mr. Mussell discusses in his paper.

It is your milk, Canada, and I hope you’re as proud of that as I am producing it for you.

Thank you to RealAgriculture for giving us dairy farmers the opportunity to respond to the recent discussions around supply management; despite our efforts, often our message is not heard in this debate and we appreciate that you see the value in amplifying the farmer voice.

 

Hennie Bos

Hennie Bos is the Chairman of Alberta Milk. His dairy farm is in central Alberta

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4 Comments

Stephen Thompson

Mr. Bos, can wrap himself in the supply management flag all he wants, but his arguments are based on economic fallacies. It is impossible, by definition, for any system which, like supply management, is based on 200% tariff barriers, to EVER be net positive. Bos can claim as many jobs are created by supply management as he wants to claim, but, again by definition, tarif-based systems always stifle more jobs than they create. In addition, Bos completely ignores the fact thay, again by definition, supply management pits farmers against one another, and that, at least in Ontario, more farmers want to see supply management ended, than want to see it saved. In addition, Bos is also ignoring data published by the Dairy Farmers of Ontario, in late 2010, which showed that Ontario consumers were paying almost 38% more for milk than US consumers, meaning that supply management is, by first principles, just too expensive for Canadian consumers, particularly the poorest group of consumers who bear a disproportionate burden of the cost of pampering the richest group of Canadian farmers. In short, if the arguments proffered by Bos are the best the supply managed community can offer, then we can’t get rid of supply management soon enough.

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Dan

What patriautistic nonsense.

Defenders of tariffs like Bos are incorrigble collectivists. He wants (and his business needs) the state’s power of coercion to interfere with the purchasing decisions of individuals throughout the milk marketing channel. How is it that the best interests of the nation are best represented by special-interest groups that cannot compete in the free market? Heads-up: They aren’t.

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Sheena

I am a consumer and supply management means food security to me. I only buy dairy products that are 100% Canadian – look for that 100% Canadian Milk blue cow label! Canadian dairy products definitely taste better and I don’t think dairy products are that expensive. Ever compare the cost of a glass a milk to a glass of pop on a restaurant menu? Dairy producers should get a good price for the milk they produce because they work hard 365 days a year! I will always support local producers because I want to know who is producing my food and where it is coming from!

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Albert Kamps

Canada imposes high tariffs on dairy. We don`t deny nor do we apologize for this. They are there to prevent subsidized, substandard, and dumped surplus product from destabilizing our market.
It is never pointed out by critics, however, that 5% of Canada`s dairy market is allowed into Canada without any tariffs, with equal food safety being the only requirement. Let`s compare that to our American `”free-trade” neighbours, who only allow 2.75% of their market to be imported. The European Union only allows a measly 0.5% import penetration. In fact, Canada imports ten times as much dairy product from the EU as it exports to the EU.
Mr. Thompson’s arguments fall flat to me and his “by definition” statements are clearly not representative of our industry. We accept no taxpayer subsidies and bailouts, and we guarantee that we will meet our Canadian market demands with excellent product. Dairy is one of the most labour-intensive and capital-intensive agricultural enterprises and needs stability and predictability for farmers as well as processors. Canada’s Supply Management system has served our farmers, processors, retailers, and consumers well with a stable supply and price for some of the safest, high quality dairy products in the world.

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