Friday, June 7, 2013

What changed first, SM or the Tariff?

Last June, Susan Mann of Better Farming wrote about Al Mussell's published report (Sr. Research Associate at George Morris Centre in Guelph ON) suggesting that Supply Management ("SM") didn't need to be scrapped, we just need to allow greater access to the Canadian markets to satisfy our trade partners under WTO (World Trade Organization) and/or TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership).

The article says that foreign commodity producers want access to Canadian markets, the second largest in the TPP negotiations.  I agree.  However importers don't have access to all of Canada's market.

For chicken as an example, foreign chicken can enter Canada at an import tariff cost of 0% (NAFTA) or 5% (WTO) under TRQ. TRQ quantities are limited to just 7.5% of the total kg consumed in Canada.  After that miniscule market access is exceeded, importer must pay a 285% import tariff cost.

100% of the 2nd largest market is significant, and worth going after under TPP and WTO.  7.5% of the second largest market is more trouble than its worth, for you need bilingual labels, learn all of the intricacies of the Canadian market, form a Canadian supply chain, etc.

All of the above keeps Canadians paying for the most expensive chicken meat prices in the world.

The farmers get some of that gravy as COP (Cost of Production), but the vast majority of those price gouging profits go to others up & down the food chain (ie. chicken feed companies, processors, supplementary processors, distributors, retail, etc.).  Gravy train for everybody, except the consumer, who pays for it all.

If the 285% import tariff was reduced, more foreign chicken would soon enter Canada, and everybody would take a hit to their gravy train.  Eventually, as everybody in the chicken supply chain got hungrier, retail prices would drop.  Anybody working under the arcane rules of SM would be at a considerable disadvantage, and they'd start to drop like flies, or be bought up by foreign suppliers for pennies on the $, because an asset caught in SM's web of fossilized bureaucracy is close to worthless as the import tariffs drop farther & farther.

Dropping import tariffs without first removing SM is a good way to kill the entire domestic chicken production system.

I think we need food security first & foremost, which means we want to ensure we can feed ourselves, even when imported chicken is no longer available.

Same logic applies to all other SM commodities.

That means we must keep the 285% import tariffs on chicken until something else is changed first.  I wonder what that something else will be?  Do you think it might be SM?

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