U.S. President Donald Trump leaves the G7 Leaders Summit in La Malbaie, Que., on Saturday, June 9, 2018. Trump upped the ante on Canada’s supply-managed dairy system over the weekend as he repeatedly warned that the country would face repercussions unless it is dismantled. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Column: Trump trade wars and food security

Should Canada keep a handle on its food products? Columnist David Zirnhelt discusses

It would appear that dairy farmers in Wisconsin voted overwhelming for Donald Trump. It might be payback time for them, as Trump says he wants to export more dairy products to Canada.

Already, Canada has opened the borders to allow U.S. farmers to send an amount equivalent to 10 per cent of Canada’s production into Canada.

This is not free trade. Is this fair trade? What is fair trade? These are relative terms.

Fair trade is defined by negotiation.

In the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations, which we hear so much about in the media, the U.S. side wants Canada to open up the borders for the flow of some agricultural produce to flow back and forth more freely, that is without tariffs put on as a barrier to imports.

Canada is trying to protect longstanding support for our dairy industry which is supply managed. In other words, the supply produced in Canada (really various provinces) is regulated to allow only what we Canadians need and want (domestic demand).

If supply and demand in Canada are balanced, then the price of the product should be based on this amount, rather than on short supply or on surplus supply.

Historically, some country’s farmers, if left to produce more and more, oversupply happens and processes collapse and, often, farmers go broke.

Then we might have to source our food (dairy) from outside Canada.

Who cares if that happens? Consider this. If we opened our borders to U.S. eggs, one or two mega producers in the U.S. could supply all of Canada’s needs.

But if the U.S. had some epidemic affecting its supply of eggs, guess who would get the supply that was left. Not Canada. This could, after all, become a matter of national security for the U.S.

The complaint from consumers is that our prices of supply managed goods (dairy, poultry, eggs, principally) are higher than in the U.S.

True, unless there is a U.S. crop failure, and prices sky rocket in the U.S., as has happened.

So if we opened our borders, there might be product dumped in times of high production, which could put our farmers out of business.

In order to be secure in raising our own food and protecting its supply for our citizens (consumers), Canadians created the supply management system.

We don’t create great surpluses to be sent over the border to the U.S.

Once we do something like destroy our supply management system (which is governed by Boards in Canada) by giving it up to Trump’s demands at the NAFTA talks, we might never get back the control over our food sovereignty for those products.

I, for one, would like us to remain in control over our food destiny.

One of the effects of controlling supply is that the governing boards give out a “quota” of how much a producer can supply to the domestic market.

Producers are able to buy and sell this quota and this has led to huge capital value.

And had made many farmers pretty well off.

At the least then they are (or some quota purchasing farmer is) still in business and their profitability has kept them in business.

By the way, beef is not supply managed and there are no quotas in beef production. Canadian ranchers have always wanted to be free to send our surpluses to the U.S.

And as a rule, U.S. ranchers and specially the feedlots and meat processors have wanted to import a lot of Canada’s surplus.

Do you want Canada to remain in control of some key food product? I do.

David Zirnhelt is a rancher in the Cariboo and member of the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association. He is also chair of the Advisory Committee for the Applied Sustainable Ranching Program at Thompson Rivers University Williams Lake Campus.

Just Posted

Quesnel’s trail building community just got a lot bigger

A new CNC course gives students a well-rounded education in track design, building and maintenance

Five fires reported in Quesnel in last eight hours

Quesnel Fire Department responded to vehicle, dumpster and other fires overnight and this morning

Reid Street construction on pause for Billy Barker Days

Crews will shut down construction to minimize disruption during the festival

Tarp structure on Warden Street to be removed

Property owner has 30 days to comply with the city’s request

SD28 reveals new school bus schedule; hits back at City Council

District says Board of Education did not make formal request to alter BC Transit schedule

Trudeau asks transport minister to tackle Greyhound’s western pullout

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s asked Transport Minister Marc Garneau to find solutions in Greyhound Canada’s absence.

Kitten OK after being rescued from underground pipe in B.C.

An adventurous feline has been rescued after getting trapped in an underground pipe in Kamloops, B.C.

A day after back-tracking, Trump defends summit performance

Amid bipartisan condemnation of his embrace of a longtime U.S. enemy, Trump at first sought to end 27 hours of recrimination by delivering a rare admission of error Tuesday.

Thai soccer players rescued from cave meet the media

Members of the Thai youth soccer team who were trapped in a cave have left the hospital where they have been treated since their rescue.

Elon Musk apologizes for calling cave rescue diver a ‘pedo’

Musk called a British diver involved in the Thailand cave rescue a pedophile to his 22.3 million Twitter followers on July 15.

Trudeau shuffles familiar faces, adds new ones to expanded cabinet

Justin Trudeau shuffles his front bench Wednesday to install the roster of ministers that will be entrusted with leading the Liberal team into next year’s election.

Hub for mental health and addictions treatment opens at B.C. hospital

St. Paul’s Hospital HUB is an acute medical unit that includes 10 patient beds

Restaurant Brands International to review policy over poaching employees

One of Canada’s largest fast-food company to review ‘no-poach’ franchise agreements

Calgary family’s vacation ends in tragedy on Texas highway

Three people died and four others were injured in the crash

Most Read