Supply managed sectors fight back as TPP rhetoric heats up

Canadian dairy, poultry and egg farmers are fighting back against what they call an “increasing amount of rhetoric and misinformation” surrounding the country’s supply managed agricultural industries.

In a Sept. 30 new release, the organizations that represent Canada’s five supply managed farm industries say poultry, egg and dairy farmers have “endured a long-running and concerted attack on the system” that provides high quality, low cost products for Canadian consumers.

Their message comes as Canadian trade negotiators are gathered in Atlanta, Georgia, this week in hopes of securing a multinational trade deal with 11 other Pacific Rim nations.

Ottawa’s support for supply managed industries is assumed to be one of the main hurdles standing in the way of a successful Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal.

It is widely believed that Canada will be required to grant some trade concessions to other TPP countries that are lobbying for greater access to Canadian markets for supply managed goods, especially dairy products.

“As the pressure mounts to conclude TPP negotiations in Atlanta this week, Canada’s dairy, poultry and egg farmers are hearing an increasing amount of rhetoric and misinformation regarding supply management in the media,” said the news release, issued jointly by Dairy Farmers of Canada, Chicken Farmers of Canada, Egg Farmers of Canada, Turkey Farmers of Canada and Canadian Hatching Egg Producers.

“As a result, (supply managed) farmers would like an opportunity to address these myths.”

The five organizations, which represent nearly 17,000 Canadian farmers and roughly $11.3 billion in farm cash receipts, dispute suggestions that supply management results in higher food prices for Canadian consumers.

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They cite a recent survey by consumer analyst Nielsen that concluded Canadian consumers pay an average of $1.30 per litre for milk, compared to $1.83 in New Zealand and $1.15 in the United States.

“(Supply managed) farmers do not set retail prices,” the news release states.

“Retailers and restaurants have always charged what they feel the market will bear…. The share the farmer receives (for supply managed products) … typically only represents a tiny fraction of the final price.”

The supply management organizations also dispute suggestions:

• That Canada’s supply managed farm industries are subsidized by the government.

• That supply managed industries are preventing a TPP deal from being successfully negotiated.

“The Government of Canada has successfully negotiated 12 trade agreements with 43 countries since 1994, (all of which) have opened up new markets, improved trade rules and preserved supply management,” the organizations argue.

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“We are confident that the government will be able to do it again at the TPP.”

Earlier this week, federal agriculture minister Gerry Ritz hinted that Canadian negotiators might be prepared to offer other TPP nations greater access to Canada’s supply managed markets.

Canadian farmers and processors whose incomes are affected by a TPP deal would be offered compensation by Ottawa, he added.

“If there is a loss on your farm or the processing side, you will be compensated,” Ritz said during a Sept. 30 debate in Ottawa.

He did not rule out the possibility that more imported goods might be allowed access to Canada’s regulated supply managed markets, but he said a re-elected Conservative government would retain “the pillars of supply management.”

When asked if TPP negotiations posed a risk to Canada’s dairy, egg and poultry farmers, Ritz suggested supply managed industries have nothing to fear.

“Not from this government,” he told reporters following the Ottawa debate.

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“They know we have their back.”

  • ed

    Supply management is basically history at the signing of this deal. If you have a business in any of these sectors, selling NOW would be a good play! Your future is not what it use to be. Mr. Ritz is nothing but a lowly “non truth teller guy”. He is part of Prime Minister Harper’s tin foil hat decoder crowd and isn’t fooling anyone any more. There will be large hidden payouts for these guys after they are gone for the deeds that they have committed to help those who don’t need help in all certainty. Canadian’s, their political representatives and their food producers will have their hands tied for generations and face uphill legal battles on all fronts with any attempt to rebuild food sovereignty and security here. Reliance on other nations for these things is by all expert accounts a disaster in wait. Trade deals should have the ability to turn away any product produced at a lower labor rate than our own to mitigate major global corporations abilities to prey on people. Much like not allowing the import of elephant tusks and endangered species animal furs, as that is also unbecoming for a modern society. We need to, in these trade agreements harmonize our labor rates with the world (not too popular a move) or encourage the world to harmonize with us. Until then, we might as well enjoy our “envy of the world” utopia while we can. Allowing big greedy corporations to take advantage of people in third world nations does nothing to make the world a better place, and in fact contributes to it getting worse. It is time for Canada and Canadians to lead by example and take the high road once again. These ill conceived trade deals have us contributing to the major causes of war, hunger and poverty on the planet. We, of all people, don’t need to be doing that.

  • ed

    With the most recent article in the Manitoba Co-operative reporting that TPP will be the end of Supply Management, it seems good researched opinion is becoming fact quicker than ever before and trumps a lot of front page BS even before the presses start rolling. This stuff is pretty easy to call if you know enough about it. Farm papers are turning into 90% recycled corporate propaganda and 10% fact, so they take less time to read than ever. They are becoming like nightly news casts where the little girls cat up a tree story is the most credible story of the evening, and that may only be there to divert attention away from something important.

  • ed

    Is your moderator on holidays?