Editorial: We must demand our governments stand up for supply management

Editorial: We must demand our governments stand up for supply management

Maybe if they tried it our way, they wouldn’t be in such a mess.

Maybe if they tried it our way, they wouldn’t be in such a mess.

Supply management in our dairy, egg, poultry and sugar industries is one of those specifically Canadian things, like universal health care, that we must insist our governments defend.

Here’s how it works. Farmers are given a quota of how much of one of these products they can produce. In return, prices are set for their milk or eggs or poultry that give them a fair return on their investment. Retailers of these products then add a mark-up. We buy them at the store, with a share of that money going to the retailer, in some cases the distributer, and to the farmer.

Farmers in supply management industries get no government subsidies. It’s worth saying again: no government subsidies. Unlike their counterparts in other countries like the United States, who are highly subsidized by the government, and still producing so much product that they’re dumping it in fields in a shocking display of waste.

They may be desperate to dump their excess on our market, but we’re not that desperate to take it.

Which system makes more sense? The Canadian one, we’d argue.

If it’s not broken, don’t tinker — and definitely don’t give in to bullying by a country with a broken system. We have plenty of eggs, milk and milk products, the prices are not outrageous, and the people who produce them, the farmers, can make a decent living.

And that doesn’t even begin to address their use of things like bovine growth hormone, not permitted here in Canada.

Without supply management, our farmers simply cannot compete with the scale of the operations in existence in the U.S. Wiping out our family farms would be a huge mistake that would put us at the mercy of our neighbour to the south for some of our most basic foodstuffs. Does that sound like a great idea to you?