Saturday, June 4, 2016

Bernier comes out against supply management

Maxime Bernier parts ways with Conservative policy on supply management - Politics - CBC News - Janyce McGregor:

May 31, 2016 - "Conservative leadership candidate Maxime Bernier says there's no way to reconcile his free-market principles with support for Canada's supply-managed agriculture sector, so he's parting company with longstanding party policy. Canada must change the marketing board system now in place for Canada's dairy, poultry and egg farmers....

'It is a government cartel,' Bernier told a press conference on Parliament Hill. 'It is the opposite of free markets'....

"As the minister for small business and tourism specifically, and as a Conservative MP since 2006 generally, he'd repeatedly voiced support for the supply-managed farm sector, a significant source of employment in his rural Quebec riding.

"'I was not in a position to question the party's democratic decision, or cabinet solidarity,' he said. 'And so I went along with it, even though I had grave misgivings about it for all these years'....

"Bernier echoed earlier studies that have suggested Canadian consumers pay $2.6 billion a year more than the world price for milk, part of a system he said was 'fundamentally unfair to Canadian families.'

 "'In order to protect 10 per cent of farmers, we are forcing all Canadian families, especially those with children and low-income families, to pay hundreds of dollars more every year for dairy, eggs and poultry products,' he said....

"The current fight over diafiltered milk — a product derived from milk and used in the manufacturing of dairy products that's currently exploiting a loophole to enter Canada tariff-free, displacing Canadian milk — is 'just the latest illustration of what happens when a system is too inflexible.'

"Bernier said supply management could be wound down with a multi-year phase-out of the quota system and the import restrictions that protect it.

"A 'temporary levy' on food products could be used to raise funds to compensate farmers for the cost of their lost quota. (Roughly $24,000 per dairy cow, with some figures putting the quota value for all supply sectors as high as $35 billion nationally.)

"He pointed to reforms in Australia as a model for Canada. But he did not explain exactly how his plan would work in a Canadian context, where both the weather (Canadian livestock needs to be in barns during the winter, for example, adding to production costs) and geographic location (right next to large U.S. suppliers) make for a different operating environment."

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