Managing supply management

by Aaron Wherry

Once seemingly kept out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership as a result of its support for supply management, the Harper government is now ready to enter into negotiations.

The Prime Minister said Canada can “easily meet” the broad strokes of the agreement unveiled Saturday by Mr. Obama, even if it means throwing into the mix a supply management system that forces Canadians to pay higher prices for products like milk, cheese, chicken and eggs…

“We will make an application and I am optimistic we will participate in the future,” he added. “Whenever we enter negotiations, as we’ve done in the past with other countries, as we’re doing right now with Europe, we always say that all matters are on the table. But of course Canada will seek to defend and promote our specific interests in every single sector of the economy.”

In its campaign platform and Throne Speech, the government vowed to continue to defend supply management.

Eliminating supply management would satisfy the first demand of Mike Moffatt’s nascent Economist Party. Last week, Campbell Clark called on the government to free the cheese.




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Managing supply management

  1. Isn’t the rationale of our supply management not that ending it would make those foods more expensive, but that they would become cheaper until the point when the farmers went out of business? 

    • oh never mind, the sentence describes the current system, not a proposed change.

      • Is that why we have no ranchers….because there is no supply management in the beef industry and their product has become so cheap that they have all gone out of business?

        • I don’t think GMFD was commenting on the desirability of supply management at all, merely on how Fekete’s writing made it sound like getting rid of it would do the opposite of what we’ve been told.

          • Emily, in what document did it say anything about the Alberta Cattle Commission managing the supply of cattle in the province of Alberta or setting the price of beef or telling ranchers where they can sell their cattle….I could find no evidence of this in any of the documents. I do know that the cattle commission does force producers to keep track the linage of all of their stock so if there is a case of mad cow disease, the animal can be traced back to its birth.

          • Those are all the boards, commissions etc that you have in Alberta.  Quite a bunch of them.

            You can’t sell beef to countries we have no trade agreements with…and those are controlled as well…like when Japan banned Alberta beef.

            How detailed all your boards are, I don’t know, and don’t have time to look through the docs. You should know them better than me.

          • Yes, I did read documents unlike yourself, Emily.  Just because ranchers choose to have a commission to represent themselves doesn’t mean it is a supply management board.
            Funny how you claim ‘not to have the time to read through the documents” but you always have the time to make some ridiculous comment.  As for the Japanese not wanting “our” beef….now that theirs is full of radiation from a reactor melt-down, I am sure they are feeling a tad bit “sheepish”.

          • Why would I be reading docs on Alberta beef?

            I’m working right now m’dear…and simply post comments on breaks….and I offered you info…you’re welcome….but why you think I have time to check into your beef boards is a mystery.

            Only thing I know about it is that it was always cheaper to buy it in Ontario….BC fresh lobster was also cheaper here than in BC…don’t know if it’s still the same way.

            The Japanese are hardly ‘sheepish’….it’s as serious a problem as mad cow.

          • BC fresh lobster?  I don’t think so….they serve Atlantic lobster in BC but just keep making up stuff as you go along.

          • @57fc79f8528c0aa6c4b4330d53700334:disqus 

            Rein in the nonsense please, and read the posts.

      • I had the same thought though. That’s poor writing on Mr. Fekete’s part.  It probably reads that way because of the “even if” followed by a negative statement.

        Better would have been ‘even if it means throwing into the mix a supply management system that lets Canadian farmers maintain a profitable business.’

  2. It would be a wonderful thing if we got rid of supply management, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

  3. Bother. It dropped my comment out of where I thought it was putting it. Pls. ignore.

  4. Somebody better call 911 for Mr. Fast. He’s out there hangin’ in mid-air.

  5. Another example of our pathetic political class who are afraid to say anything substantive. 

    Cons are supposedly free trade but so far have refused to consider significant changes to supply managements. Presumably, Cons are threatening to sell to Asia in order to light fire under Americans but who knows if it work. And why are Cons all of a sudden keen on free trade when they have been denying benefits of trade for a few years at least.

    Is Canada now serious about joining TPP or is it bargaining position to make Americans uncomfortable? Don’t know because our pols aren’t saying, which is ridiculous and not a proper way to run a country. 

  6. People always complain about prices under supply management in Ontario. I am willing to pay a premium to know my milk, poultry, and eggs all come from this province, the quality is controlled in this province, and the profits go to family farmers living in this province. 
    But I have no doubt this is just another Canadian and Ontario institution created and preserved by progressive thinkers through the decades that Harper will be more than happy to destroy.

    • When you say that you are willing to pay higher prices, does that mean everyone should also be willing to pay higher prices?

      I completely understand that you’d like to continue purchasing high-quality dairy products, but it’s not clear to me that they will all of a sudden go away if supply management ends.

      • Ontario will be swamped by factory produced high volume milk eggs and chicken from the US. Now under the North American free trade system I could still search out local food in Ontario, but you wouldn’t find it on supermarket shelves.
        Heard about Bick’s Pickles???

        • People do not seem to understand that the (sometimes) cheaper dairy products in the US are largely subsidized by the US government.  Dairy farmers in Canada are paid what their product costs to produce, no government subsidies, no handouts.  God forbid they make a decent living at it…

          Dairy products in the US, when averaged across the whole country, are not cheaper than Canada.  That’s not to say that they aren’t used as loss leaders in big box stores, but they are not consistently across the board cheaper. 

          And have a nice time drinking those hormones that are ILLEGAL in Canada. 

          • It’s the quotas that are the problem.

            And hormones that are illegal in Canada will remain illegal.

          • W_B – this was to all, not just you.

          • ahh common sense… very good to see

  7. Well past time that dairy farmers become cannon fodder to The Economy.
    Why should they be different ?

  8. Would we export our health regulations to these foreign suppliers?  Or would such precautions get all NAFTA chapter 11ed away?

  9. As an Ontario dairy farmer, I feel the need to comment, We here enjoy a consistent supply of the highest quality milk regulated far beyond the quality standards south of the border.  You lose supply management, you lose the family farm.  Ever enjoy a drive around the countryside, try it without supply management when i’ll have to milk a thousand cows to feed my family instead of 100.  Thank you for the support those who appreciate my family and 4,500 other Ontario dairy farm families hard work and commitment to quality.

      • I’m not exactly sure what that means however i just finished moving my neighbours cows in to my barn after his barn burnt down, does that make me one of “these people” or a “neo-liberal chirper” ?

        • Pardon my lack of clarity .. I don’t do sarcasm in print very
          well. I’m firmly on your side.

  10. Just to make sure the political implications aren’t left out here. Ending supply management should be enough to jolt separatism back to life in Quebec. 
    In Ontario the local food activists should get their considerable expertise and urban middle class power organized to fight this. It’s a local food issue as well  economic. In rural Ontario it would be like a plague moving across the landscape wiping out family farms in its path.
    And remember the Americans never play by the trade rules they’ve agreed to, so their massive ag subsidies will continue making it impossible for Ontario farmers to compete. 

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