Keep the Momentum Going
By Kristy Nudds
In anticipation of high-level negotiations in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which took place in Hawaii the last week of July, supply management once again found itself under attack. That round of negotiations was widely rumoured to be the final round, where the TPP’s 12 member countries sealed the deal on the world’s most ambitious — and largest — free-trade agreement.
Advocates of the TPP hope that the agreement, which seeks to eliminate or reduce tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade, will boost economies of the member nations, which together account for nearly 40 per cent of the global economy.
It’s been no secret that the United States, and New Zealand in particular, want access to Canada’s dairy market. News reports will have you believe that Canada’s refusal to budge on tariff rates for dairy is the primary reason the talks fell apart. Not true – although an important point of contention amongst some of the TPP countries, news reports cite disagreements over intellectual property rights and duties on automobile manufacturing between the U.S., Japan and Mexico as the most significant barriers to reaching a conclusive deal.
Nonetheless, the perception that Canada’s dairy industry is hindering TPP progress persists. Although it’s not known when talks will resume, don’t expect much of a break in the supply management bashing.
Now is not the time for Canada’s poultry and dairy sectors to breathe a sigh of relief. With a federal election approaching in Canada and the U.S. gearing up for an election in 2016, there is pressure on the countries’ leaders to finalize the TPP, or at the very least achieve bilateral deals. This will keep supply management in the news, and it provides a great opportunity for the dairy and poultry sectors to take a proactive, rather than a defensive, stance.
In anticipation of the July TPP meeting in Hawaii, the Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) put together a great campaign to educate consumers on the benefits of supply management to Canadian dairy farmers and milk production. Called the “Milkledown Effect,” the DFC sought to give consumers information on supply management and its benefits via a website (www.milkledowneffect.ca).
It’s the best campaign showing consumers the benefits of supply management I’ve seen. The reason I feel it’s effective is it keeps the message simple, and touches upon issues that are important to consumers – food safety, the economy, local food production, and family values.
Towards the end of the TPP meeting in Hawaii (July 30) the national poultry boards and the DFC jointly released “Farmers Fight False Information About Supply Management” (available on our website, www.canadianpoultrymag.com), which was full of great information on supply management for consumers and media.
But it was sent out late in the game, and didn’t receive as much coverage as I would have liked to see. One advantage of the Milkledown Effect is that it is housed on its own webpage, separate from DFC’s main website. This is key because it allowed the DFC and dairy farmers to promote it heavily on social media networks.
I hope that the feather boards and DFC create a website that houses the fighting false information article for easy access. In the meantime, find it on Google or our website and promote in your own blogs, websites and social networks. Keep the momentum going – and don’t wait until the TPP looms again. The benefits of supply management need to be promoted 365 days a year.