More debate over supply management

From Peter O’Neil in the National Post:

“OTTAWA — Farms in the heavily protected dairy, poultry and egg sectors, concentrated primarily in Central Canada, are far more likely than those in other sectors to be high-priced operations owned by corporations, according to an internal 2011 analysis done by Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz’s department.

The figures were assembled last November as senior officials in Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada scrambled to respond to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s announcement that Canada will put the controversial supply management system on the table as a price to enter the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade negotiations.

The federal government and farm lobby groups in the protected sectors defend the system, saying it has created a strong dairy, poultry and egg production network that can withstand price volatility and doesn’t depend on government subsidies that are common in other countries.

But a critic said Friday the figures suggest one group of Canadian farmers is pampered at the expense of other farmers — and the general public.

“The original intent of supply management was to protect family farms, but the intent and outcome are just worlds apart,” said Brian Lee Crowley, managing director of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, an Ottawa-based think-tank.

He noted that the number of dairy farms has plunged 90% since the system was introduced, because larger producers with a guaranteed cash flow have an incentive to acquire quota — enough quota for a single cow is pegged at $28,000 — from smaller operations….”

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