Supply Management, the Only Viable Way Forward for the Dairy Sector

In his text entitled “À quand la gestion de l’offre 2.0?” Sylvain Charlebois pleads for a reform of supply management without telling us what that reform would look like in concrete terms. In his opinion, supply-managed products are an unprecedented opportunity to offer premium quality products to the rest of the world in the wake of the new TPP and CETA trade agreements. The only thing that’s missing is a strategy. If you read between the lines, he suggests that our resistance to change is the reason why we are not big enough, good enough or competitive enough to take advantage of the opportunity.

Supply management, the system in which production is based on domestic market needs, is currently yielding very positive results for the dairy sector and the Canadian economy. In the last 3 years, we have been responding to an annual growth in demand of over 4%. Milk producers are busy modernizing their enterprises so that they can keep up with it. To succeed, they invested over $500 million in equipment and buildings last year alone, and that money keeps the local economy going.

The consequences of abandoning supply management and undertaking a reform with the same objective are raised in a recent PwC study and a study by the Boston Consulting Group published in 2015, which both evaluate the consequences of ending supply management: the disappearance of the majority of dairy and poultry farms and the loss of several tens of thousands of jobs. These are losses that our economy simply cannot afford. CETA and the TPP have been concluded, but Canada is still renegotiating NAFTA. The U.S. demands that Canada end supply management, but refuses to discuss its own agricultural policy. The only viable way forward for our sectors is for the Canadian government to show the same determination as the U.S. government in defending its interests and protecting its farmers.

 

Alain Bourbeau, Agr.

General Manager, Les producteurs de lait du Québec

 

 

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