Ontario Agriculture

The network for agriculture in Ontario, Canada

Finding Efficiency Through Trade Policy Change

“Give me a level playing field and we can compete with the world’s best”

I heard this quote last September 22nd at a meeting for hog farmers set up by Ontario Pork. It was one statement that I classed as optimism in a room that was overwhelmingly negative. I can completely understand why negativity abounded at this meeting, every farmer in that room faces a very uncertain future but I want to focus on the positive.
While our farm at home is one of the many hog farms that faces that uncertain future I have a calming belief that I will still farm. I truly believe that agriculture is set to take the stage as the most important global industry as we will seek for ways to feed the growing population around the world. I also believe that Canada’s role in alleviating the global food crisis will hinge on our willingness to liberalize inefficient policies that abound in Canadian ag policy.

I chose to open with that quote from the meeting because I feel that Canada would thrive in a world of free competition, there is no nation in the world better suited for agricultural production. When you couple our natural resources with our comprehensive infrastructure of supporting businesses and extensive research and knowledge bases, Canada has the potential to be an agricultural superpower. If we were ever allowed to compete in a free market, Canadian farmers would thrive. That being said, if we want a free market then we should become leaders for others around the world: step up and eliminate policies in our own country that harm producers in other regions. This attitude may not be popular with producers in certain sectors of Canadian agriculture that benefit from protectionism but I want you to consider this simple fact: Canada can produce more food that it can ever hope to consume; is it not our responsibility to explore how to make our system more efficient in hopes of feeding people around the world.

As a person coming from a free market industry, we have shown that we can compete with the world’s best. Canadian hog producers are among the lowest cost producers in the world and I firmly believe that in a world of free competition we would not be suffering right now. This feeling is probably shared by a US dairy producer facing financial ruin. It stings when you work to be a world leader in terms of efficiency, only to see your hard work destroyed by protectionist policies of your trading partners.

While my feelings on trade liberalization are probably not shared by many in the agricultural community we must consider that we are an incredibly small portion of the population and I don’t feel that it is socially responsible when we benefit at the expense of others. Consider the supply managed industries: not only do they harm the Canadian consumer; they also harm producers in other nations. Is it fair that Canadian dairy producers are making a profit because of protectionism when farmers across the border in Michigan are in danger of losing their livelihood? This problem even exists within our own borders here in Canada. Hog producers in Ontario are struggling to survive while producers in Quebec benefit from provincial subsidies and then dump their product into Ontario. If we as Canadian producers ever tried to do to other trading partners what Quebec producers do to Ontario producers we would be hit with a trade challenge the minute our goods crosses our border and the practice would have to stop.

On a larger scale, we must consider that in the global population is going to grow to 9 billion within the next 40 years with the majority of this growth coming in developing nations that lack the ability to feed themselves. While production efficiencies are important, they are only part of the equation. Efficiencies will also have to be found through the liberalization of trade. Canada has an opportunity to be a world leader in this regard. While there would be much pain for producers here in Canada in the short term if protectionist policies were eliminated, in the end it would benefit both the Canadian producer and consumers.

Views: 76


You need to be a member of Ontario Agriculture to add comments!

Join Ontario Agriculture

Comment by Christine Schoonderwoerd on October 26, 2009 at 6:34am
Great article, Stew, I always love reading your posts. I guess the obvious question here is how can we quit being on the losing end of trade barriers and Quebec's government subsidies?

Agriculture Headlines from Farms.com Canada East News - click on title for full story

Charges laid in cattle theft investigation

With the assistance of Livestock Services of Saskatchewan (LSS), RCMP have laid several charges against a Whitewood, Sask. man for cattle rustling. On June 28, a Saskatchewan RCMP Livestock Investigator received a report from LSS about a suspicious livestock transaction. Moosomin RCMP determined 14 calves had been stolen from a farm in the RM of Silverwood in three different incidents. Further investigation determined a man stole the calves and attempted to sell them. 34-year-old Ryan Bennett from the Whitewood, Sask. area is charged with three counts of theft of cattle over $5,000, three counts of possession of property obtained by crime over $5,000, and three counts of trafficking property obtained by crime over $5,000. Bennett is scheduled to appear in court in Moosomin on Aug. 20. Seven calves have since been recovered and returned to the farm.

Manitoba Ag Hall of Fame adds four individuals

Four names have been added to the Manitoba Agricultural Hall of Fame. Hugh Drake, Dr. Don Flaten, Dr. Allan Preston, and Fred Tait were recognized for their contributions to Manitoba’s agriculture industry at a ceremony this week at Winnipeg’s Red River Exhibition Park. The nominees for 2024 are: Hugh Drake of Elkhorn, Man. dedicated most of his life to service on various boards within the agriculture industry in Manitoba. For 14 years Drake served as a director with three different grain companies. During this time, he also sat on the Heartland Livestock board, an amalgamation of Manitoba Pool Elevators and Saskatchewan Wheat Pool livestock markets. While Drake was on the board of Heartland Livestock, they built a new auction barn at Virden, Man. which is still in operation. In the late 80’s Drake participated in the provincial debt review board and played an active role assisting farmers in financial crisis. Drake dedicated his life and time away from his own businesses and fam

Québec names 2024 Outstanding Young Farmers

Due to an important transition for Québec Outstanding Young Farmers, the winners for 2024 were revealed during summer activities held at La Grange de l'île, Île d'Orléans, on July 3.

Ontario is investing in innovative agri-food research

The Ontario government is investing $7.2 million in The Ontario government is investing $7.2 million in 44 Ontario-led research and innovation projects. This investment is being made through the Ontario Agri-Food Innovation Alliance, a collaboration between the province, the University of Guelph and Agricultural Research and Innovation Ontario (ARIO).

Ontario Hazelnut Association organizes three farm tours

The Ontario Hazelnut Association has announced three farm tours at different locations around the province to showcase the broad growing range of the tree nuts.

© 2024   Created by Darren Marsland.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service