More questions about the Canadian Wheat Board and supply management

From Barrie McKenna in the Globe and Mail:

“Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz says he’s all about putting “farmers first.”

At first blush, this sounds like a pretty reasonable motto for an ag minister raised on a Saskatchewan farm. Who doesn’t like farmers, after all? They do tough, essential work that feeds us all.

The catch is that “farmers first” often implies “consumers last.” And what Mr. Ritz really means is that some farmers come first, but not all farmers.

As the Harper government pushes ahead with long-promised legislation to overhaul the Canadian Wheat Board, Ottawa’s incoherent and intellectually dishonest farm policy is now on full display.

The government is stripping the wheat board of its grain-marketing monopoly on the grounds that farmers deserve free and open markets, like their brethren in potatoes, cattle, fruits and vegetables. Mr. Ritz insists farmers should choose how they market their products so they can “attract investment, encourage innovation and create value-added jobs.”

But that doesn’t apply to dairy, egg, chicken and turkey farmers. These farmers operate in a hermetically sealed regime marked by tight central control of production, the near-total exclusion of imports, and higher prices for everyone.

And the government has made it quite clear that’s the way it should be. Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he’s ready to defend the so-called supply management system, now and forever.

Beyond history, it’s hard to figure out what makes a dairy farmer so different from a cattle rancher or an apple grower. If open markets are so clearly in the best interests of grain farmers in Western Canada, why aren’t they also good for the dairy farmers of Quebec and Ontario?…”

2 Comments

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2 responses to “More questions about the Canadian Wheat Board and supply management

  1. Winifred

    I have not read the entire article, nor do I know all the ins and outs of the wheat board, nor the cessation of the wheat board, but the topic has caught my attention enough to make a comment. On the weekend, I was showing my daughter the DVD, “The Future of Food”, a film by Deborah Garcia. It is a 2005 documentary, prior to the dissolution of the Wheat Board. The film it mentions that The Canadian Wheat Board voted against the entry of Monsanto and genetically modified wheat (2000?) into Canadian fields and foods. Along with the wheat board were farm organizations, environmental groups, and citizens’ organizations. It occurred to me (and perhaps many others are way ahead of me), that this was a contributing factor to Harper’s government dissolving the wheat board. The dissolution of the wheat board, paves the way for Monsanto, and other large agricultural corporations…..and GM infestation of our wheat crops.

    • BC Food Security

      Winifred : I agree with your analysis. The basic rule of thumb when dealing with the current federal government is this : How can we design policies (food and otherwise ) that will benefit as few Canadians and as many corporations as possible ? The Prime Minister is bent on stripping away anything that serves the social good of Canada until all that is left is ,well , no country at all ! I often joke “why does the current PM of Canada HATE Canada so much ? ” Sadly , this is no joke as this individual does ever increasing and irreparable damage to our reputation and standing in the world. What is the solution ? Think Global but act and buy only local .

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