As we were speeding along the highway from Düsseldorf to Enschede last night my friend Elmine asked me what the Canadian view of the situation in Europe is, and this led to a conversation about supply management and agriculture trade issues. There is no better observer of this topic in my network than Ian Petrie, both former-farmer and former-journalist and, and, now unshackled by the need to shape pieces around the demands of television, someone free to comment fully and intelligently about issues he knows very well:
It’s the import controls (high tariffs) that the business media and aggressive dairy exporters like the United States, New Zealand and Europe want rid of. What’s often forgotten is that Canada’s system begins with the producers’ real costs, then processors and retailers add their margins, and that’s what the consumer pays. It’s farmers who get paid less in these dairy export countries that allow large processors to export so successfully, and they clearly want to add a wealthy country like Canada to the list of countries they sell too. And recent data indicates that the consumers in these exporting countries pay a price too to keep these countries competitive on the world stage. Don’t forget that until UHT milk becomes more palatable/popular, it isn’t fluid table milk that’s on export markets, it’s dairy products like cheese, butter and yogurt. While Canadians pay on average (varies in different provinces) $1.45 a litre for milk, consumers in New Zealand pay 20 cents more ($1.65) and Australians $1.55 per litre.