Taxpayers in Trump’s America prop up milk prices, yet Canadian supply management always cast as villain

Letter writer Jim Wert

The Editor:

More Food for Thought….
A little rain this morning, some relief for the crops and cattle, but what I would really like is some relief from the hot air currently swirling around NAFTA.

I am apparently one of the evil dairy farmers holding the entire Canadian economy hostage because of our commitment to maintain supply management.

I would like to try and explain from a farmer’s point of view what supply management represents. Quota in dairy is our access to market, access to our domestic market and we receive no financial support from any level of government in return for this privilege. I need to emphasize the quota system is the result of input from processors, government, consumers and farmers. It is the foundation that we build our farms on.

Perhaps if we called it something else it would be better understood. My coffee this morning comes from coffee shops that manage supply and demand by franchises. My paper is published by a company that bought market share by acquiring countless smaller publishers. The hydro guys working out at the road are unionized, our doctors are regulated by the college of physicians…. The list of examples is endless.

The point is, every successful business understands the connection between supply and demand. Every responsible country in modern history has built its foundation on domestic food production, that foundation in turn is stabilized by government policy. Canada’s dairy industry with our government’s assistance chose supply management to stabilize our industry and match supply with demand.

If you want an example in dairy, of what happens when there is no connection between production and consumption, our American friends are our closest example. But to be fair to taxpayers, which is what this trade deal is supposed to be all about, I would like any critic of supply management to do the math.

Go back 53 years since the start of supply management in Canada and add up the billions and billions of dollars in band aid programs, rolled out everywhere around the world except Canada. Programs necessary to address the economic plight of dairy farmers caught in surplus markets. Now measure the impact of all that money being invested because nothing has changed, those markets are still at historic lows. Now explore the opportunity values of that same money if it had been invested in say education or health care or the environment.

Just last month the US Department of Agriculture stepped up to try and buy some of the American surplus in an attempt to prop up prices. I would appreciate some of the critics of supply management to explain to me how adding more debt to an already challenging US deficit is sustainable.

Our American friends in the dairy industry have some hard decisions to make but they do not need to include fixing Canada’s supply management system.


Jim Wert

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