The feasibility of Canada’s supply management system has received significant debate recently: what would the consequences be for our agriculture industry, primary producers and processors, as well as consumers, if supply management were eliminated?
Those opposed to supply management often compare Canada’s situation with the United States’, but in doing so, fail to address that the US government provides multi-billions of dollars in subsidy programs to their agriculture industry. Between 1995 and 2010 alone the US government paid out more than $167 billion in commodity subsidies (not including crop insurance, disaster programs or conservation subsidies). The dairy industry alone received $4.8 billion in subsidies in that period.
In no way has the US government suggested it will eliminate such subsidy programs for their dairy, poultry and egg production, so how would Canada compete? Do Canadians really want to be dependent on foreigners for their food supply?
Another major concern those opposed to supply management have not addressed is the bovine growth hormone, rBST. The use of this growth hormone on dairy cows to increase milk production has not been approved for use in Canada. In short, Canadians do not want their milk or dairy products to contain this growth hormone because of concerns with respect to both animal and human health.
By eliminating supply management and opening our border to “cheap” milk and dairy products we would be doing indirectly what is illegal directly, namely placing on the retail shelves dairy products produced through the use of a growth hormone. Currently in the US, 17% of the 9 million dairy cattle are injected with this growth hormone.
Criticizing supply management in favour of the “blameless market” is relatively easy. What is more difficult is to ensure a system that provides Canadians with safe and secure food products at reasonable prices while returning fair prices to producers. The current supply management system does that. Why some promote transferring market power from producers and consumers to a system that allows the exploitation of both by global corporations is beyond me.
Wayne Easter, MP