Wednesday, October 7, 2015

TPP, Agricultural Jobs, & Cellular Farming

Will Trans-Pacific Partnership trade treaty reverse the steady drop in Canada's jobs within the Agricultural sector?  Will TPP provide Canadians with food sovereignty and food security?

I have been a firm philosophical supporter of Free Trade for more than 40 years.  Today, I question the wisdom of that support.  Was I previously duped by the Free Trade propaganda?

In a Nov. 1994 interview of Sir James Goldsmith (1933 - 1997) about his book The Trap, Charlie Rose also interviews Laura d'Andrea Tyson (1947 -   ), the Chairperson of US President's Council of Economic Advisers during the Clinton Administration.  Goldsmith argues that GATT (General Agreement on Tariff & Trade), serves the false god of economic indexes such as GDP, and serves the interests of the 0.1%'ers and corporations, all of which are against what is good for society overall and its people, that this dysfunctional policy will help destroy and accelerate the destruction of Western civilization and its people.

Goldsmith also briefly discusses the error and false economy of intensive agriculture that will displace millions of people around the world, and create huge indirect costs that far exceed the savings created by the search for more food production and cheaper food.

The video is well worth the hour of your time to watch and remember.  It is also a chilling reminder of the risks we now take with TPP.

There is no doubt that the huge multi-national corporations are huge winners under Free Trade.  Free Trade seems to have widened the prosperity gap between the 0.1%'ers and the rest of the people.  I see no reason to assume that TPP will do any different than the previous free trade agreements.  Because TPP involves countries with 40% of the world's GDP, TPP will likely accelerate and magnify the previous effects from 1988 Free Trade Agreement ("FTA") and the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement ("NAFTA").

We still don't have access to the secret TPP agreement, but WikiLeaks offers a draft version of TPP's chapter on Intellectual Property and the Salt Lake summary of negotiations in 2013. The trade deal is composed of a 1,500 page TPP text, plus a number of bilateral letters between 2 or more countries on various aspects of the deal, and side deals in addition or clarification of the main deal.  Trade Minister Ed Fast said the main text is being translated now, and will be released to the public in the next few days.

To better understand TPP, we need to look back at the effects achieved by the FTA and NAFTA.

Canada's Agricultural Jobs

In 1971, there were about 165,367 dairy farms, but by 2011 the dairy farms had dropped to 14,883 farms; a 91% loss of Canada's dairy farms that have closed.  That's a loss of 150,484 dairy farms.

The number of chicken farms has dropped from 176,818 in 1966 to 20,645 in 2011; 156,173 farms disappeared, an 88% drop.

That's a total loss of 306,657 farms for dairy and chicken during the reign of Supply Management ("SM").  It is hard to understand how SM claims to protect the family farm.  Just how stupid do they think we are to blindly believe their SM propaganda?

Beyond SM, between 1988 and Aug. 2015, Statistics Canada reports a loss of 340,658 jobs in Canada's agricultural sector.  That's a 36.67% loss of the jobs that existed in 1987.

If we assume just 1 farmer working on each of these lost dairy and chicken farms that become unemployed after their farm closed (an unrealistic, but simple assumption to make my point), that lost chicken & dairy farms represent 90% of the agricultural job losses.
Figure 1:  Loss of Agricultural Jobs in Canada.  Can the losses of dairy and chicken farms
explain 90% of these job losses?  Why didn't Supply Management save these family farms?

I regularly see pickles from India on the shelves of my local grocery store.  Canadian packing plants for pickles and other agriculture vegetables have been closed.  Are Canadian cucumbers being pickled elsewhere and being placed on grocery store shelves in India?  I doubt it.

Malthusian Catastrophe was described in 1770's as when a nation outgrew its food supply.  Food sovereignty and security has been argued and legislated by governments since the Corn Laws in the 1800's in England.

Scientists have used tree rings in California to study the current drought, as the rings form by the wet & dry seasons that occur every year.  They learned that the current California drought is the worst drought in the last 1,200 years.  California produces about 90% of the fruits and vegetables consumed by Canadians.  California also supplies about 90% of the USA's fruits and vegetables.  California has taken more than 400,000 acres out of food production (or crops are threatened by) due to a lack of available water.  Does this sound like a reliable source of fruits & vegetables for Canadians?  If there is a shortage of fruits & vegetables grown by California, will the few remaining truckloads that are still available come first & foremost to Canada, or stay in the US?  Food security for Canadians is not enhanced nor guaranteed by TPP.

During the Irish Famine (1845 - 1852) absentee Irish landlords and English merchants continued to harvest and ship locally produced crops out of Ireland to feed Europe and England while the Irish starved to death.  If those crops had stayed inside Ireland to feed the local citizens, the Irish Famine would never have occurred.  All of Europe suffered the potato blight, but only Ireland suffered the famine due to the raping of Ireland for the benefit of the 0.1%'ers.  Will the multi-national corporations of today use TPP to maximize their profits in spite of the impact on Canadians?

The Free Trade Act was signed and started implementation between Canada and USA in January 1988. Mexico was added in 1994, creating NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) for Canada, USA, and Mexico.  Have these free trade agreements made the Ag. job loss better or worse?

What will the TPP free trade agreement do for Canadian agriculture?

The government says TPP will be great for Canadian agriculture.  Why then were they so quick to announce a $4.365 Billion aid package for Supply Management ("SM") farmers?  Obviously the government thinks it's going to be a negative effect.  Will the benefits gained under TPP by Canada's grain, beef, pork, and other farmers fully offset the negative effect from Free Trade?

It's hard to know for sure.  Lets look at some more data that might help.

Canada's Manufacturing Sector

Figure 2:   Canadian Manufacturing jobs in Canada,
a 16.35% loss since the 1988 Free Trade Agreement.

FTA came into effect in Jan. 1988.  Within a year of FTA starting, 200,000 Canadian manufacturing jobs had been lost, hitting a local minimum in 1993; most likely explained by the closing of US branch plants inside Canada that had previously been justified as a solution to avoid high import duties into Canada.

Within 5 years under FTA, the engine of Canada's manufacturing sector was revved up and gaining traction from the FTA opportunity.  We hit a new maximum in 2004 for manufacturing jobs, but jobs have been on a downhill slide until 2009.  In 2009, we entered into a flat plateau going nowhere.

Can this manufacturing job data be explained by a Fortress USA being formed in 2001 due to 9/11, which caused US customers to buy American?  Did this Fortress America effect destroy the FTA & NAFTA benefits previously enjoyed by Canadian manufacturers, and that Fortress America effect started hitting Canadian manufacturing in 2004 to 2009?

The US economy crashed in 2007 from the corruption and financial excesses on Wall Street.  Canada's banks suffered similar problems, but were rescued by the Federal government, and the general economy sailed through until 2009.  Eventually in 2009, Canadian manufacturing was significantly affected as the Great Financial Crisis affected more and more businesses and consumers in the US and around the world.  Orders for Canadian goods have dropped or flatlined ever since.

Overall, Canada's manufacturing has suffered a 16.35% job loss between Jan. 1988 and Aug. 2015, which is an average loss of 0.62%/yr., halfing and re-halfing the Canadian manufacturing jobs every 113 years.  A very slow & steady decline.  Is this the net effect of FTA and NAFTA, in spite of the glowing propaganda of the Canadian governments and their big corporate friends?

Will we soon get even more of the same medicine from TPP?

Have we not yet learned from all of this history?

Cellular Farming

I suggest "Cellular Farming" is the solution, and avoids the "bet the farm" risky bet on global, multi-national free trade agreements for critical food supplies.

Let's look at the analogy of cellular radio systems.  It is theoretically possible to build one huge radio transmitter that will cover all of Canada.  However, you must build a huge radio tower and a huge transmitter that transmits at millions of watts radiated power.  Those who live next to that transmitter will have sparks jumping from farm fences due to the huge power levels.  Those living at the outer edges of Canada will have a weak static-filled signal that can be barely heard.

Instead of this, amateur radio operators with their repeaters, CBC Radio, and our cellular phone system have developed the concept of cellular communications; hundreds to thousands of local towers that broadcast at small power levels in the local vicinity.  This allows the re-use of frequencies so that the limited radio spectrum is used efficiently without jamming the signals from two nearby towers both transmitting on the same frequency.

Figure 3:  One bad cell tower does not disable
the entire system.  Cell service in the zone of
the bad cell tower is somewhat covered by the
6 other cell towers that surround the bad tower.
If a cellular phone system has a bad tower, that bad tower can be easily bypassed and cell service continues through all the good towers that surround the bad tower.

Assuming that a global multi-national doesn't get involved, a corner variety store is too small and too local to become a dangerous force that acts against the best interest of its neighbourhood customers.

For the same reason, assuming no multi-national monopolists get involved, small local farms such as Small Flockers will never be a threat to its customers, and can well serve the needs of their neighbours for safe, nutritious, affordable, locally produced food.

If one neighbourhood farmer dies, goes bankrupt, or becomes corrupt, negligent, or incompetent, that farmer's customers can soon be affected by this tragedy.  However, the 6 cellular farmers in the immediately adjacent cells surrounding the bad farmer can quickly pick up the slack created by the bad farmer, requiring the 6 surrounding farmers to increase their production by 16.7%.  If the 12 cellular farmers in the next ring out from the bad farmer help out, that's a total of 18 cellular farmers to cover for the bad farmer (6 in the first ring, 12 in the second ring, for a total of 18), so these 18 cellular farmers would have to increase their production by 5.6% on average to totally replace the output of the bad farmer.  The bad farmer will eventually disappear and will soon be replaced by an excellent cellular farmer, provided special interest groups have not constructed huge, impossible barriers to entry (ie. there is a free, local market).

For this reason, I suggest that cellular farming is better, safer, and more responsive than farmers aligned or controlled by SM or multi-national corporations.

Cellular farming is defined as a small, local farmer who supplies their immediate community or neighbourhood for 1 or more foods (eg. chicken, eggs, vegetables, etc.) for all or part of their customer's annual or seasonal consumption.  This could be a small flock poultry farmer, beef farmer, vegetable or market gardener, etc.  They could do this on a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), roadside stand, farm gate sales, Farmer's Market, custom contract growing, spot market (ie. telephone call "Do you have some carrots for sale? ... Yes? That's great, I'll be right over...") or similar methods.

Huge regional farms that are aligned, controlled, or influenced by multi-national Big Ag. corporations, or Supply Management systems are too risky, too expensive, and less responsive to the consumers' needs.  We saw that risk first hand in 2012 when 1/3 of the beef slaughter capacity in Canada was suddenly lost due to contaminated meat shipped by XL Foods in Alberta that poisoned 10 people.  It nearly destroyed the Canadian beef industry.

Cellular farming and cellular processing avoids the need to "bet the farm" on huge free trade deals for agricultural products.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Off-topic commercial spam that's posted so as to help sell your wares will be deleted.

On-topic comments, where you behave yourself and play nicely, will remain posted; whether they are pro or con. Everybody needs to fully understand all points of view so that we can find a solution that encompasses everybody's concerns. Give it your best shot.

If you decide to post, your posting becomes part of the public record, and SFPFC has full rights to use it (or not) in any reasonable manner or medium that suits our purposes.

Before posting, please proofread, and correct as necessary. If you subsequently discover a need to fix your previous posting, make an additional posting that refers to the original posting, then set the record straight.