(Ottawa) — At the International Trade Committee’s March 9 hearing on Bill C-282, An Act to amend the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Act the National Farmers Union (NFU) recommended full support of the Bill. This would ensure future trade deals do not weaken or eliminate the import controls that allow our supply managed sectors to function.
Supply management is a unique Canadian institution that provides stability in five perishable food sectors — dairy, broiler chickens, laying hens, turkeys and hatching eggs — by controlling the amount produced, preventing shortages, and keeping imports from flooding our market. Farmgate prices reflect the actual cost of production through a transparent and evidence-based calculation. Canada does not experience wide fluctuations in supply and prices, and our system does not require massive government subsidies that other countries must pay to support farmers’ incomes in these sectors.
Former NFU President and dairy farmer Jan Slomp spoke in favour of Bill C-282 at the International Trade Committee. He said “Concerning the possible Greedflation that is taking place in the grocery sector; the best answer we can have is a regulated system in which prices are transparent and visible. We cannot allow further deterioration of supply management, and keeping supply management healthy does not have to be at the expense of other commodities that need more trade.”
While the risks of serious supply chain problems in our economy mount, our supply management system protects both farmers and consumers. As an example, Slomp noted November 2021’s unprecedented flooding in the Lower Mainland, which devastated many of BC’s dairy and poultry farms, “This inundation of water and complete elimination of the functioning of farms did not disrupt product supply to consumers from the supply-managed sector. Supply management organization, provincially and interprovincially, was responsible for the steady supply to consumers throughout this emergency.”
The loss of farmers is also a risk to our food system. Slomp noted, “the average age farmers in Canada is very high, and yet in supply management there is a healthier situation and it is because of the commitment to the long-term sustainability in this system.”
Supply management has already suffered damage with CETA, CPTPP and CUSMA. If future trade negotiators are allowed to remove even more market share from our supply managed sectors, young people who aspire to become dairy, egg, chicken or turkey farmers will not be compensated, but their future will be compromised, and Canada would be in danger of losing its next generation of farmers in these sectors.
By passing Bill C-282 Parliament will strengthen the supply management system and ensure it can continue to provide an income to Canadian farmers,support jobs in Canadian processing plants, and contribute to agricultural research in Canada. Income from dairy, poultry and egg production will be multiplied in local communities where farmers and plant workers spend their incomes, generating economic activity in rural communities, and enabling their prosperity.
Slomp notes that many circumstances have changed over the years, from trade agreements to weather to aging farmers to the consolidation of the grocery sector. Supply management continues to protect consumers and farmers, but it must be strengthened after decades of loss to the many international trade agreements.
Slomp, on behalf of the entire NFU, recommends that Bill C-282 be passed without amendment as a matter of national interest.
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For more information:
Jan Slomp – (250) 898-8223
Read the full brief NFU submission on BILL C-282