Wednesday, August 9, 2017

NAFTA could reform dairy policy

The North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations present an opportunity for Canadians to reform dairy policy to improve the industry, writes agricultural economist Karl Meilke, professor emeritus at the University of Guelph.

For example, he says the cap on quota-trading prices in Ontario and Quebec should be scrapped and other measures should be taken to make quota more affordable so dairy farms could expand to more efficient and competitive scale and new people could get into dairy farming.

Sorry, Karl, but it won't happen as long as the provincial marketing boards are dominated by farmers who don't want anything to change. Why should they because the system has made them comfortable millionaires?

“The industry desperately needs the opportunity to consolidate and move milk production from its current location and into the hands of its most efficient producers. In this way, it will be better positioned to meet additional foreign competition,” Meilke writes.

He notes that reforms have been urged for decades, beginning with the Food Prices Review Board and the Economic Council of Canada in the early 1970s and including crtitiques by agricultural economists such as Richard Barichello and John Cranfield.

The paper he has written that includes the call for reforms is about the NAFTA negotiations. He says there is little need for changing NAFTA because it has worked well for the three countries and there have been hardly any complaints and disputes, considering the volume of trade.