months, Canadian farmers have endured a concerted attack on the system
that brings Canadians the dairy, poultry and egg products they trust. As
the pressure to conclude the TPP negotiations in
Hawaii this week mounts, so does rhetoric and the
proliferation of misperceptions surrounding supply management through
certain attacks in the media, and by some think tanks and those with
In this light, farmers
would like an opportunity to address these myths.
Does Not Raise Prices for Consumers
We do not set retail prices. Retailers and restaurants charge what
they feel the market will bear. They set the price for food and for
everything else for many reasons that have nothing to do with how much
the farmer receives, including retailer competition, brand positioning,
cost of competing items and specials to get consumers in the store.
Chicken is currently
the least expensive meat protein. Over the last two years, the price of
chicken has risen by only 3%, compared to over 20% for other meats,
freely traded at that.
A Nielsen study showed that in 2014, consumers paid an average of
$1.30/litre for fresh milk in Canada, as compared with $1.83 in New
Zealand, $1.81 in France, $1.15 in the U.S, $1.19 in Germany, and $2.35
The average annual retail price for whole frozen turkeys in Canada
over the last 15 years was $2.92 per kg, vs. $3.34 per kg in the United
States; sometimes a little higher more often lower, but not ever
wildly out of range with the U.S.
You can buy a dozen eggs, the most complete protein source available
for less than the price of a latte. The biggest determinant of how much
we pay for dairy, poultry and egg products isn't supply management
it's where and when we shop.
Is Not Blocking the TPP
The Government of
Canada has successfully negotiated twelve trade agreements
with 43 countries since 1994 and all of these have opened up new
markets, improved trade rules, and preserved supply management. This is
a successful negotiating formula and we are confident that the
government will be able to do it again at the TPP. It works because
Canada is already the 6th largest importer of agri-food
products and 1st on a per capita basis; we don't need to take any
lessons on market access from other countries.
Every single country
involved in the TPP has something that they want to keep.
The United States, for example, has a long history of
restrictive import protection in the sugar and dairy industries;
Japan has a long history of protecting the rice sector;
New Zealand has always vigorously defended its
is not subsidized
Canada's dairy, poultry and egg industries receive no
government subsidies, unlike other agricultural sectors. In countries
without supply management (and even here in
Canada), other sectors are heavily subsidized.
Consumers pay twice
for most food, once through their taxes (whether they buy it or not),
and again at the grocery counter. With dairy, poultry and egg products,
you only pay for it if you buy it.
Canada isn't a Closed Market
Canada is an important market for countries the world over
even for supply managed products.
Canada imports more chicken, for example, than six of the
TPP countries (including the U.S.) combined.
What's ironic is that
New Zealand and
Australia, the media darlings of international trade, whom
we are encouraged to emulate, import no chicken.
Makes a Difference to
332,006 total jobs
$11.3 billion in farm cash receipts
$27.5 billion to Canada's GDP
$6.4 billion in taxes
Management Will Not Lower Consumer Prices
In countries where supply management has been dismantled, such as
New Zealand, prices have actually gone up for consumers,
while revenue for farmers has gone down or stayed the same.
The average domestic
price for two litres of milk in New Zealand jumped 11.3% from May 2013
to May 2015, despite being a major milk exporter, and having one of the
lowest costs of production in the world.
Nielsen's global price comparison (52 weeks ending December 2014)
shows milk is about $1.30 a litre for Canadian fresh milk, which
compares well with the 1.83 in New Zealand, and 1.81 in France, 1.15 in
the United States, 1.19 in Germany, while China's prices are more
expensive at $2.35 a litre.
Even in Canberra, Australia's capital, 30 eggs cost $6.69 CAD while,
at the same time, they cost $5.99 in Ottawa.
Presuming and promising lower prices prematurely assumes that
retailers will pass on lower prices to consumers.
Supply Management Helps Food Safety Systems Work
Canadian farmers are known worldwide for their stringent food safety
systems. Not all farmers outside of
Canada adhere to the same standards.
Dairy, poultry and egg
farmers are obligated to follow strict on-farm programs that ensure that
the highest on-farm standards are followed, from food safety to
biosecurityand supply management allows them to be enforced.
is Risk Management
Supply managed farmers are able to avoid bust periods that can
happen for reasons like animal disease (both domestic and
international), which often force other farm sectors to use government
support programs and subsidies in order to ride out the storm.
In a recent interview,
Ontario Agriculture Minister,
Jeff Leal, credited supply
management for saving rural
Ontario from "total collapse" during an outbreak of BSE
because stable revenues from one sector allowed all the other businesses
that serve farmers to ride out the downturn.
There are more than
1,000 egg farms in
Canada in all parts of the country with an average flock
size of about 23,000 compared to about 200 farms in the U.S.
concentrated mainly in a few states with an average flock size of 1.5
million. Thanks to supply management, which has assured the stability of
the family farm, when a crisis like high path Avian Influenza hits in
Canada, farmers can contain, mitigate and buffer Canadian
consumers and protect our animals, without the uncertainty of relying on
Get the Facts
Farmers are growing increasingly concerned about having their
industries misrepresented in certain media. It's time that people had
the facts or at the very least, the other side of the story.
For more information
on how supply management works for
Canada and Canadians, please refer to the following sites:
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