RE: Montreal Economic Institute – Nearly all Canadian farmers prosper without supply management

This article was submitted to the National Post. It was not published.

Let’s make one thing absolutely clear: supply management for chicken, egg, turkey and dairy farmers grew from their own desire to better manage supplies at a national level. Together they adopted production disciplines so they could concentrate on filling the demand of the domestic market without producing an excess or a shortage. Farmers in other sectors felt no need to adopt supply management. Both are legitimate and reasonable choices.

So, what impact does supply management have on other agriculture sectors? None. That’s right: Zero. Supply management is specific to the sectors operating within it and comparing to other commodities, such as crop-based farms, is comparing apples to oranges.

This in no way has impinged on other agriculture sectors’ operations in both Canadian and international markets. In fact, as pointed out in Farm Credit Canada’s 2013-14 annual report on global trade, Canada is the world’s top agriculture trader when compared to all other countries on a per capita basis.

Politically stable and economically fit, Canada has proven its ability to open up markets for export sectors and to uphold supply management for the Canadian chicken, egg, turkey and dairy sectors for decades. Since 1989, Canada has negotiated a total of 14 trade agreements with 51 countries; we are confident this trend will continue during these on-going NAFTA negotiations.

Supply management is a uniquely Canadian response to volatile markets. Consumer demand is rarely static. It changes as a result of demographic shifts, immigration from countries with different food preferences, and new science related to human health and nutrition. As result of a focus on consumer demand and preferences, the chicken sector has grown and continues to have room to grow. Since 2012, it has grown 12% and is expected to grow another 5% in 2017. There is no limit in sight to this continuous growth. Farmers have responded to consumer demand by increasing production, all thanks to the strength and flexibility of supply management.

Mike Dungate,
Executive Director, Chicken Farmers of Canada