Thursday, February 4, 2016

Dairy industry gets $1.75 million subsidy

The federal government announced another $1.75 million for dairy research this week, bringing the total to $13.75 million since 2013.

This money is for two research goals being pursued by federal agriculture department scientists - the impact of dairy fats on cardiovascular health and boosting energy in forage rations so cows will give more milk.

The dairy-fat impact on health involves products such as cheese and butter, long thought to be harmful by laying down cholesterol in arteries.

The funding is from Growing Forward II and goes into the dairy cluster that was launched in 2013.

In justifying the subsidy, federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay said “Canada’s dairy sector is among our largest food industries and contributes significantly to the country’s economy.

"This new investment in research will help boost milk yields and help maintain consumer confidence in the nutritional value of dairy products.”

So much for the oft-repeated boast of dairy farmer leaders that because of supply management, governments don't need to give them any subsidies.

In fact they have their hands out all the time, lobbying for gifts such as the elaborate research facilities recently opened at the Elora Research Station that's managed by the University of Guelph.

And they are quite vocal and adamant that the federal government ought to do a better job of providing complete protection from international competition via tariffs. Every time an importer finds a loophole, they lobby for a regulatory fix, such as one they recently got for cheese and one they now seek for protein isolates.

These are dairy farmers whose benefits from supply management average more than $1 million at prevailing quota prices. And they have no qualms about households living below the poverty line having to pay tariff-protected prices for their milk and dairy products.

It's not fair.