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 pickleballers net key victories in Senior Games

MacDonald and Jasper use tact to win women’s doubles gold

Barb Bachmeier in the running for Area B CRD director

Bachmeier is a Bouchie Lake volunteer firefighter and a carpenter by trade

TNG block roads, question gov’t on moose hunt

Chief Joe Alphonse confirmed Thursday they’ve deactivated the Raven Lake Road and the Mackin Creek Road just before the Island Lake turnoff

College of New Caledonia offers new automotive glass technician program

The program is offered mainly online, allowing more students to take part from across the north

Quesnel writer wins Global eBook Awards

Emma Plant won gold and silver in two different categories in the international competition

Watch out for Pavement Patty: Drivers warned outside B.C. elementary school

New survey reveals unsafe school zones during 2018 back-to-school week

Horvat leads Canucks to 4-3 shootout victory over Kings

Vancouver dumps L.A. in NHL pre-season contest

Update: Search called off for missing plane between Edmonton and Chilliwack

Search efforts were concentrated along the Highway 5 corridor between Valemount and Kamloops

Why Whistler for ski jumping in 2026? Calgary proposal gets pushback

Calgary 2026 proposes re-using the 2010 ski jumping venue Whistler for that sport and nordic

VIDEO: Hundreds line highway as family brings home body of B.C. teen

Northern B.C. showed their support by lining Hwy 16 as Jessica Patrick’s body returned to Smithers.

Despite progress, threat of 232 tariffs dominates NAFTA negotiations

Any deal is seen to require congressional approval before Dec. 1 to survive new Mexican government

B.C. MP Todd Doherty receives award for saving man who collapsed on a plane

Conservative MP was flying from Vancouver to Prince George, B.C., in June last year

Alleged border jumper from Oregon facing 2 charges after police chase in B.C.

Colin Patrick Wilson charged with dangerous operation of motor vehicle, flight from a peace officer

More than 35 B.C. mayors elected without contest

No other candidates for mayor in the upcoming local election in 22 per cent of B.C. cities

Most Read