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From the Editor: Not Tough Luck

Not tough luck


July 8, 2008
By Kristy Nudds


Topics

A recent editorial in the Globe
and Mail criticized supplymanagement, something that publication does
from time to time, particularly when an economic or trade report is
released. 

A recent editorial in the Globe and Mail criticized supplymanagement, something that publication does from time to time, particularly when an economic or trade report is released. 

This was the case on June 16, when an editorial titled “Tough Luck for Consumers” described, very briefly, a 160-page report on Canada’s economy from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). 
In the report, supply management programs are heavily criticized, and the editorial decided to take some liberties with the information contained within the report. 

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Through the “ingenious scheme of supply management” consumers are told they fund a guaranteed income for farmers utilizing an inefficient system.  
How is supply management inefficient? Poultry and dairy production – as is all intensive livestock production – is more biologically efficient today than it has ever been. This is a product of science and research, not governance.

And the real reason for increasing efficiency was not created by a marketing board. It was a joint effort between government, academia and retailers in North America to keep the price of growing food, and thus the food itself, as low as possible. 

North American consumers have gotten quite used to plentiful amounts of cheap food. With corn reaching US $8 a bushel and fuel costs skyrocketing, retail food prices have increased; however, food inflation in North America is nowhere near what it is in other parts of the world.

Take a look at what’s happening to the pork and beef industries. Not under supply management, they have fallen victim to the global marketplace so touted by the Globe and Mail. What did it do for them? And do you think if consumers realized that they may very well soon be eating pork from China that they would be happy about it?

The Globe and Mail writer also says that “lack of competition has stifled innovation, discouraging the creation of new products.” Well it was Canadian scientists that developed the Omega-3 egg, as well as DHA-enhanced milk.

I find it tough to swallow that in the current climate of advocating local food, going green and saving fuel that consumers are being urged to fight a system that offers them quality homegrown food at a fair price. I also think they would have a tough time seeing agriculture go by the wayside.

That’s really what’s at stake here. Sure, publications and politicians can criticize supply management for being a monopoly, but without it, livestock agriculture in this country could be in big trouble. We have a problem called winter – and for some provinces more than others, this problem makes poultry rearing in the winter months expensive.  If it were not for supply management, we couldn’t compete on production prices with countries such as Brazil.

I think the question consumers should really be asked is, do they want agriculture to remain in Canada?  


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