Supply management was created in the 1960’s by farmers and government to regulate perishable commodities such as eggs, poultry and dairy products. This board also sets the price per unit based on the cost of production, controls the quality and safety by regulating the use of medicines and prohibits the use of genetically modified hormones which are allowed in dairy across the border. This body also ensures that processing is done locally, meaning less travel, fresher products and local employment. But the real value of supply managed agriculture can been clearly seen by comparing apples to apples right here in Canada.
Non-supply managed agriculture sectors include beef, pork, and cash crops such as corn, soybeans and wheat. These sectors are supported by subsidies, grants and insurance programs used to infuse cash into a system that sees farmers with no options other than to sell their commodities below the cost of production, thanks to a global marketplace. Canada-wide, these transfers are commonly around 1.5 billion dollars per year, with the majority going to large scale operations receiving millions each. The government delivers a disproportionate amount of cash to the largest producers, encourage huge fields and feedlots instead of smaller traditional family farms.This model is used by all countries who want to sell in a global market, as one country provides payments, others must do the same if they want to compete in exports.
In Canada you will only pay for your milk once, as supply managed sectors do not draw from these pools, (they don’t need to). Milk producers get paid for what they produce and only what they produce: this does not create inefficiencies, but rather the opposite. Programs that require taxpayers to pay twice for their food does a far better job of encouraging non profitable operation. Dismantling supply management will do little to ease the States’ overproduction issues and not for long, and will destroy one of the few successful farming models Canada has left.
If you like paying once for safe dairy products benefiting local farmers instead of multinational corporations, you need supply management!
National Farmers Union member from Mount Forrest, Ontario