Alberta Dairy Farmers Respond to Supply Management Criticism

Only days ago it was Canada Day; a day to celebrate our country and embrace all things Canadian. Some think of poutine, but I, and the thousands of other dairy and poultry farms, celebrate our truly Canadian supply management system. It’s how I feed my family, how I feed my country and how I help support 250,000 Canadian jobs.

Apparently Mr. Al Mussell of the George Morris Centre isn’t as patriotic about our system as I am. That being said, Mr. Mussell’s arguments about supply management are refreshingly informed compared to many economists. However, I must reject his suggestion of reducing tariffs.

Tariffs are a pillar to ensuring our product stays proudly Canadian. If those were to be removed or decreased, it would distort the premise of supply management. If I were to remove the chicken from chicken noodle soup, can I still call it chicken noodle soup, despite it only having noodles and broth? No, you can’t.

Mussell eludes in his paper that farmers would be inclined to dismantle supply management themselves after tariffs are reduced. Something you should know about us farmers is that we are very happy with our system because it works for us and all Canadians. But, as Mr. Bob Seguin, of the same George Morris Centre, rightly says, we work on making it better every day!

We need to look at the big picture. I count over 10 trade agreements that have successfully completed. I have confidence that our Government will stand behind our farmers and ensure that a fair deal is made, as they have in the past. I know they appreciate that we don’t take a penny of their tax dollars to subsidize our farms during bust times. The American Government is not so lucky. Perhaps that’s why they are looking to incorporate a supply management element in their new Farm Bill.

We have developed a website, www.yourmilk.ca that helps clarify some myths that Mr. Mussell discusses in his paper.

It is your milk, Canada, and I hope you’re as proud of that as I am producing it for you.

Thank you to RealAgriculture for giving us dairy farmers the opportunity to respond to the recent discussions around supply management; despite our efforts, often our message is not heard in this debate and we appreciate that you see the value in amplifying the farmer voice.