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FORSETH – I’m a protectionist but only as long as the playing field isn’t level

(Image: bcdairy.ca)

THIS AFTERNOON (June 13, 2018), Sheila Gunn, from the Rebel media, sent me an email asking me to stand up for Maxine Bernier.  She stated:
Last night, Andrew Scheer fired Maxine Bernier from the Conservative Party’s shadow cabinet.  The reason? Bernier, the party’s most popular MP from Quebec, opposes “supply management” for Quebec’s dairy industry.
Of course, supply management is just a fancy way of saying: we all have to pay triple the normal price for milk, cheese and yogurt, because Quebec dairy farmers have managed to lobby Ottawa for subsidies.
It makes the rest of us hundreds of dollars poorer every year, and it benefits a handful of Quebec businessmen.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to pay any more than I have too, but I also DO NOT want to see Canadian farmers, ranchers, and dairy producers driven out of business.  Contrary to want anyone has to say, American producers ARE SUBSIDIZED … and subsidized in a BIG way.

From February 8, 2018:
... the American government continues to provide massive levels of support to its agri-food sector at federal, state, and local levels … in 2015 (for example), the American government doled out approximately $22.2 billion dollars in direct and indirect subsidies to the U.S. dairy sector … when it comes to farm support, the U.S. has the deepest pockets; deeper even than the European Union. Our study provides detail nationally, and on a state basis, the losses to U.S. dairy farmers. USDA data reveals that for more than a decade, U.S. farm gate prices for milk fail to cover costs of production

Gunn, in her email to me and many others, went on to say:

Andrew Scheer is the leader of the Conservative Party. But if he’s going to purge everyone who doesn’t believe in special subsidies for Quebec lobbyists, it’s going to be a pretty small party.

P.S. I’m from a farm family. I remember when the party fought against the Soviet-style Canadian Wheat Board. Since when are the Conservatives the party of Quebec lobbyists?

But again, I have to ask, who IS getting subsidies?  The Americans definitely are, they just don’t like to talk about them because it doesn’t really fit with their mantra of free markets, rugged individualism, and survival of the fittest.

Don’t believe me?  Well, here’s more proof. Sean Haney, founder of realagriculture.com, says:

One of the things we are seeing is that the way dairy industries are supported on both sides of the border are different.  Canada on the front end, is clearly supported through the quota system. In the U.S., it’s more through other means like MPP (Margin ProtectionProgram), SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and so forth.”

In a story yesterday (June 12), the CBC said:

Canadian defenders of the supply management system say U.S. President Donald Trump is “stunningly hypocritical” for attacking dairy supports while politicians in Washington hand out billions in subsidies to American farmers — and levy punishing tariffs of their own on some commodities.

We can go back even further to show this is nothing recent, and in fact U.S. food producers have been getting a big helping hand from Uncle Sam for a long time.  On Nov. 25, 2010, the Globe and Mail had a story that indicated:

There are few places in the world where farming is a truly free market activity — least of all the United States.

They went on to quote Ottawa trade consultant Peter Clark, who wrote a report for the Dairy Farmers of Canada.

The U.S. continues to provide massive — sometimes unreported to the World Trade Organization — support at the federal, state and local government level to U.S. agriculture“.

And finally, from Real Agriculture comes a statement that sums it up quite succinctly … U.S. dairy subsidies equal 73 per cent of producer returns, says new report

Canada long ago decide to let others provide us with many of the goods and services we require … from food … to clothing … to furniture … and more.  That means in a tit-for-tat trade war, where we retaliate on U.S. goods imported to Canada, we are going to lose.  We need the products, and we no longer produce and manufacture enough here in our own country to meet our own needs.

Trump is a loose cannon, and as long as he is in the White House, Canadians can be nervous about him slapping tariffs on any number of products we do manufacture and ship to the States.

Don’t be misled … whether by Maxine Bernier … or Sheila Gunn.  If we do not want marketing boards in Canada, then the U.S. better follow suite by dropping the billions in subsidies the provide their food industry. Canada must insist those subsidies end, before we make any changes to marketing boards.  If not, we can watch as what’s left of the family farm also becomes a sunset industry.

Sheila wants you to sign a petition demanding that Andrew Sheer re-instate Bernier.  I suggest instead you send her this column.  Am I being a ‘protectionist’?  You bet, but only as long as we don’t have a level playing field to play on.

I’m Alan Forseth in Kamloops.  The floor’s yours now so share your thoughts below in the comment section.

Alan Forseth is a Kamloops resident and former member of the Reform Party of Canada and the B.C. Reform Party, and a past and current member of the BC Conservative Party. His blog is My Thoughts on Politics and More.

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About Mel Rothenburger (5947 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

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