VANCOUVER—Dairy farmer delegates from across Canada converged on Vancouver this week for Dairy Farmers of Canada’s annual general meeting. The organization’s AGM coincided with reports of mounting tensions around Canada’s supply management systems for poultry and dairy, and their effect on Trans-Pacific Partnership talks.
“The last few days have been productive and rewarding,” Wally Smith, DFC’s president, said. “During the AGM, farmers truly demonstrated a strong unity and pride for the industry. All discussions have been promising, with the goal to keep up the support for supply management in this time of uncertainty and pressure.”
During his address, Mr. Smith noted that although the dairy industry is facing uncertainty and foreign pressure for change, there is a need to remain unified.
“As I said in February, the government must never trade away the sustainable economic driver of unsubsidized supply management to participate in the unsustainable, uneconomic model of subsidized deregulated world trade,” he said.
Meanwhile, negotiations between 12 countries over the TPP are ongoing. While Prime Minister Stephen Harper affirmed last month that Canada can protect its supply management systems for poultry and dairy while pursuing one of the most significant trade deals in history, reports continue to emerge that the country’s supply management systems are becoming a sticking point in the talks, particularly with Canada’s closest trade partner, the U.S.
In previous trade deals, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, the Canadian government has been able to protect its management systems for poultry and dairy. With mounting tensions, however, as well as growing scrutiny around supply management, the industry’s future has never seemed quiet so unclear.
While industry groups say the controls guarantee quality and fair earnings for farmers, critics of the systems claim supply management leads to higher consumer prices for both dairy products and poultry.