Report calls for reduction in food import tariffs

© AgMedia Inc.


The supply management sector still studiously ignores the growing discord in the farm community, discord expressed by both Ontario Pork, and the Practical Farmers of Ontario, when it comes to the structural dysfunction in the farm community caused by the incomes and purchasing power available only to supply management.
Get with it supply managed farmers - your biggest problem isn't outfits like the Conference Board of Canada, or the Globe and Mail, or even every economist in Canada, it's the non-supply managed farmers under the age of 40 who live down the road from you, and who have no desire to spend their entire lives seeing supply management get everything, while they get nothing.

Stephen Thompson, Clinton ON


Surprising comment from a former dairy farmer who was protected by and made his living from a product protected by the tariff .

In public relations, especially in the fairy-tale world of supply management, it's not what you say, but how you say it, and what you leave out, which tells the real story.
For example, while the erstwhile, and undoubtedly-partisan, Mr. Dungate, in his role as the executive director with Chicken Farmers of Canada, falls all over himself to point out that New Zealand "doesn't import any chicken into its country", he doesn't disclose why - and it could be because New Zealand has its own chicken industry, and/or because it's too expensive to bring chicken all that way to New Zealand, and/or even because New Zealanders don't have a taste for chicken.
If New Zealand had import tariffs on chicken, the way we do in Canada, and it would make no sense for New Zealand to have abolished subsidies for dairy but not poultry, Dungate would never let us hear the end of it, but he never once mentions it, and that's duplicitous, deceitful, and designed to bamboozle people, especially chicken farmers who, through no fault of their own, can't see through his chicanery. Dungate's argument is, therefore, morally-wrong, and, all-too-typical of the deceit, by omission, that supply management foists on us every day, and has for 40 years.
What's worse is that, all-too-typically, after proffering his own "questionable, if not spurious" arguments about New Zealand and chicken, he turns around and blames the Conference Board of Canada for doing exactly the same thing.
The problem Dungate, and supply management supporters studiously, and continuously ignore, is that everything the Conference Board has written, is supported by basic, and completely-undeniable, economic principles, and economic history, while Dungate's arguments are supported by nothing more than the usual supply management tactic of "shoot the messenger".
The truly-sad thing about Dungate's tactics is that he's simply trying to pander to his constituency of increasingly-desperate quota holders who hope that basic economics, basic demographics, increasing discontent and divisions in the farm community, and cross-border shopping, are all just a bad dream that will go away if they keep beating the propaganda drums ever more-loudly - it won't.

Stephen Thompson, Clinton ON

Mr. Thompson

I've noticed that SM bashers make statements they can't support. The false allegation about the terrible tragedy of the chicken workers is an example.

SM bashers also challenge statements made by SM supporters. The Canada/US price comparisons between Home Depot, Sears, Amazon are clearly factual and easily verifiable on line yet SM bashers just deny or ignore this. It's hard to ignore tools, for example that cost 50-70% more in Canada than the US but that's what your fellow traveler did.

Another tactic the bashers use is name calling and bullying which Mr. Thompson you have justified in the past. Perhaps the most obvious thing I see here with the bashers is repetition. A notorious character in the 1940's said "if you repeat a lie often enough it becomes the truth."
I think these tactics reveal a need to cling to false beliefs despite how overwhelming the evidence is that you are wrong.

For 40 years, supply managment types produced report, after report, after report, all purporting to show cross-border retail price equivalency for milk and other products produced by supply management.
Yet, now that they can't do that any more, they've adopted the standard response of any three-year old caught with their hand in the cookie jar - "But I only had two, he had three" - as if accusing someone of an even-bigger crime somehow absolved them of theirs.
The pointing to Home Depot, for example, as a retailer with supposedly higher prices in Canada than in the US, conveniently, and incorrectly, ignores Wal-mart which, in my experience, and based on the very-few consumer non-durables I buy (Wrangler jeans), the price has, ever since my local Wal-mart opened over a dozen years ago, been consistently less in Canada, than in any Wal-mart I have visited in the US.
However, cherry-picking by both sides is irrelevant compared to the admission by the Dairy Farmers of Canada, arguably the most-partisan farm organization in Ontario, that Ontario consumers were, in late 2010, paying almost 38% more for milk than US consumers - when even DFO admits something that damning to their cause, especially after having boasted for 40 years that Ontario consumers were paying nothing more, is significant, and completely destroys the ability of DFO to make claims about retail price equivalency in the future.
When it comes to false beliefs, nobody clings more to false beliefs than supply managed farmers - for example, by the first principles of economics, tariffs, especially ones as high as 200%, are always net-negative for jobs and economic activity, yet supply management supporters, to a person, stubbornly cling to this, and other theories which have long-been discredited.
The basic, and undeniable, economic truth is:
(1) supply management is net-negative for jobs and economic activity
(2) supply management pits farmers against one-another
(3) supply management, through cross border shopping, subsidizes US farmers, US retailers, US workers, and the US treasury, all at the expense of Canada
(4) supply management hinders our ability to optimize trade alliances for our much-larger export oriented sector.
(5) supply management has huge "drag" costs which are the (futile) costs of promoting, and defending, what can only ever be, flawed economic and public policies.
(6) supply management reduces the ability of our processing sector to compete globally, and thereby also thwarts our ability to enhance our trade surplus via exports - our dairy and poultry infrastructure has become a high-cost venture, all at the expense of consumers both on the supply side, and on the processing side
And, sorry, but I'm not wrong, abrasive maybe, but not wrong - the false beliefs are entirely on the part of supply management supporters who can't understand/won't understand that screwing consumers, and being economic bullies in the farm community, is eventually, and soon, going to cause a backlash.
It's truly sad that so-many farmers stubbornly cling to beliefs that are not going to serve them well in the hopefully not-too-distant future - there are going to be many who will have no sympathy for them, and who will say - "we tried to tell you, but you wouldn't listen"

Stephen Thompson, Clinton ON

This quote, attributed to John Heywood (circa 1546) has, for many years, epitomized dairy and poultry farmers, as well as their children who I tried, sometimes successfully, sometimes not, to teach economics.
In other words, the most-deluded people are those who choose to ingore what they already know, and that applies to supply managed farmers who seem to believe that anything one who studies economics is a heretic, anyone who writes for a national newspaper is a know-nothing, anyone who knows anything about demographics doesn't deserve any attention, and anyone else who doesn't fawn over them, can be ignored.
It's this dismissive attitude on the part of supply management supporters that they have ecomomic truth, and moral justification, on their side, which will eventually prove to be their nemesis

Stephen Thompson, Clinton ON

When it comes to "SEEING" things tunnel vision does not always prove to be the best . It has many times been said that Hindsite is 20/20 . It should be looked at as to what has worked , what hasn't and what is the best in looking for change . Change from within is many times the best .

There have been many terms used to describe these operations that are protected by 200-299% tariffs. Monopoly, racket, cartel, but I believe the one that best suits is oligarchy. The definition of oligarchy(similar to aristocracy) is government by a few, usually the rich, for corrupt and selfish purposes. Thes people practice the politics of wealth defense(propaganda) as Dungate and Beaulieu have in the above story. The barriers that impede the average person from 'joining' an oligarchy are signifigant, in this case, quota. Raube Beuerman, Dublin, ON

It may well be that many farmers who are SM producers do not always agree with where their boards go with decisions but have to live with them . It has been the norm for a while now that bigger is better and you only have to look to the Ag retail sector to see that . Buy out your competition is the best way to get rid of them or to get their customers .

It may well be that a Sm system is not such a bad thing as there are other businesses that do operate under a form of SM called supply/demand/limited contract . All you have to do is look at the bean industry and how the contracts are all controlled and the bean board has basically been pushed out . It used to be that quality was king but now it is quantity .

It may well be that the quota system as it is or has morphed to is the problem which comes back to who was at the table making decisions for their own personal interest or for the interest of an other group . Ths is very real and is seen in many farm organizations .

to the editors of better farming....its time to block any further comments from the camps of Thompson and Beurman enough is enough we ve all read over and over and over about their negative comments on pretty much any topic, the negativity that s festering is of no value to anyone and is harmfull to all readers, its reaching the religious crusade category with them and I for one like others are tired of the constant drible from these types of people. Please only positive constructive dialogue from now on....this serves no one but the few that love the sound of their own voice and own opinions and think themselves the most intelligent people in their world, your forums are only providing them the ability to post their negativity much like a preacher pounding his pulpit with the same old message.....enough
farming in oxford cty

agreed. the dialogue on here is the same as a school yard. i thought farmers were professionals.

There used to be three. I enjoyed one a pork producer who presented logical arguments that I often disagreed with. Now we are left with two. One, on occasion, has explained that his name calling and abuse are justified because of the conduct of others. The other, recently reached a low point when he falsely stated that the deceased victims of a fatal traffic accident were illegal workers. I am not saying this to attack these individuals but to ask the moderators to do something.

It was Better Farming who published the story regarding the CBoC report of tariffs. So ask them. If you have an argument, then make it. Online commenting sections have become the norm for almost every major publisher. And yes, I did mistakenly use the term 'illegal', which I have already apologized for, so get over it. Everything else regarding that story is true, and publicly known. It seems to me you are upset because of the the bad picture it painted of poultry farming using migrant workers. Raube Beuerman

I enjoy honest debate. That's one way I learn. Dishonest debate takes many forms. For example some people are willing to lie about the facts. Most of the time it works. Once in a while a lie is so outrageous that someone checks the source and the perp gets caught.

Any thoughts on name calling and abuse?

Get over it is right. One slip and you would think it was Mike Duffy on trial here. If the best argument you have is a simple one time slip...then you have nothing. Mr. Beureman makes many good points...and I have learned much from the articles and websites he has shared with us. If you have to dwell on one slip and can't respond to the actual points made, then give up. Oh and by the way accusing someone of lying is the same as calling them names...I learned that at a very young age, didn't you?

So you leaned much from Beureman?

And how much of his statements are factually true?

I thought that he was a politician when I read an article in a publication where he said he uses a corn , soybean wheat rotation only to read lower that soybeans had not been grown for more than a dozen years .

Ever since the lessons of the Corn Laws 175 years ago, one of the most-basic, and most-undeniable, principles of economics, a principle as basic to economics as the principle of gravity is to physics, is that tariff-based systems are always net-negative for jobs, economic activity, and public policy in general.
Therefore, to anyone who has studied economics at even the most-basic level, the overall net-negativity of supply management isn't open to either debate, or discussion.
That so-many farmers, and farm groups, continue to fiercely support fallacies which are the economic equivalent of water being able to run uphill, speaks volumes about the tremendous extent to which farmers still place faith over reason - understandable, possibly, 60 years ago when the average farmer might have had a Grade 8 education, but now, to have so many supposedly well-educated farmers still believe in economic witchcraft, is nothing less than a tragedy.

Stephen Thompson, Clinton ON

The concept of gravity has never been proven. It is the theory of gravity, not principles. Theory is speculation.

Therefore the rest of your argument is technically called "witchcraft economics" as your opening statement about gravity is flawed.

That supply management is net-negative, is as basic to economics, as gravity is to physics - I can't possibly make the comparison any simpler.
I'd get the same sort of smart-ass, and always dismissive, comments from students (seemingly always from dairy farms) when I used to teach economics, but by the end of the semester, even the most recalcitrant of them would know, and even understand, why supply management is always net-negative - they mostly refused to believe it, of course, in the same way someone with a PhD in bioogy can still believe in six-day creationism, but at least they passed my exam, never with flying colours, but they passed just the same.
Therefore, I would invite any skeptic to take even the most-basic course in economics offered by the continuing education department at any nearby University - the tuition is deductible, and academic pre-qualifications don't normally apply if you're not taking the course for credit towards a University degree.
And rather than commute one night a week, many colleges and Universities now offer on-line courses which means that anyone on this site could actually improve their understanding of the issues facing agriculture, instead of heaping uneducated, and scornful, abuse on those who do.

Stephen Thompson, Clinton ON
Now this is what I call an economist . She makes all the other so called's look like dingbats .

I'm upset because you were willing to malign innocent victims of a horrible accident in your zeal to destroy honest hard working farmers who respect the law. And your "apology" says a lot about your values.

Here's another topic the bashers have denied. Cheaper goods and services in the US.

If you are willing to deal with your misrepresentation of this fact honestly I'll give you more examples of SM outside the dairy and poultry industry.

They won't see it . They can't see that gas and diesel is priced differently while the product is the exact same . Thing is it is not a matter of right and wrong it is a grudge and entertainment .

Sometimes the only way to changes the way things are is to vote with our wallets, not at the voting station. The average tariff rate of products coming into Canada is 15%. Yesterday, a good friend of mine stopped by that I hadn't seen in a while. Him and his girlfriend had visited the states for a few days. He lives in Atwood, which is quite a drive from the border. They always take a cooler or 2 with them to fill it up with milk and some chicken, and they also bring beer,(another monopoly controlled product) and pay the duty on everything while still saving money. BTW, thanks for the link, when read thoroughly it makes my argument look good. If you really want to make a case then please give examples of products that are protected by tariffs of 200-299 percent. Otherwise-don't bother. Raube Beuerman

I am not the original poster you were responding to but find it funny how some one replies twice to the same post and asks if the other is still pouting . Your actions show that you are like some I know when they are wrong they repeat themselves louder thinking that louder makes it right ...... Oh never mind you would likely never understand if it hit you over the head any way .

Compassion for innocent victims falsely accused of criminal activity is not pouting. I see your buddy has decided that SM farmers are criminals too.

Supply management is practiced in many ways besides government tariffs. Managed supply of cars, potash and oil are just some examples.
Of course this reality doesn't fit with your outlook so instead of debating your reaction is "don't bother."

If someone can go across the border for a couple of days to bring back a cooler of milk and chicken and save money must have a very large cooler? Where do they sleep in there car , hotel and meals must cost something for a couple of days. Come on you have to have a better story than that so people can believe , I for one cannot see going over to buy milk and chicken to save big would it not be maybe the BEER and tank of GAS.

Ah but the best part is buying US farm products like milk that get so much subsidy from those poor stififs in the US that actually pay income tax. Beuerman says he's in favour of the kind of taxpayer subsidies that our non-supply managed pork industry gets. At one point US dairy farms even got paid taxpayer money to leave the industry for 5 years. Sound familiar?
Last I heard the US farm bill had been reduced to just 955 billion

Quote: " Beuerman says he's in favour of the kind of taxpayer subsidies that our non-supply managed pork industry gets." Lets see now? Agristability, AgriInvest, plus RMP COP for Ontario pork which gets exported to U.S. stores. At the same time U.S. pork producers get almost no support. Can't blame the U.S. pork producers for wanting a level Pork playing field can you?

I feel like the CEO of Verizon, and the rest of you are all shareholders of Robellus. Or maybe the teacher of a grade 3 class, and every student has their hand up at the same time. And speaking of cell phones, you gotta love Harper's recent comments about putting consumers first with a little US competition. Could we see some spillover? Judging by the article in this weeks paper on page 22A by a popular farm journalist, I can see why there is a raised level of anger towards Thompson and I. Its alright, we can take it. Raube Beuerman

Since you are making this discussion about you I offer these ideas for you to consider.

Accusing farmers of criminal behaviour might make some people angry.

Ignoring inconvenient truths doesn't make one popular.

Presenting false information tends to annoy people.

Relentlessly attacking honest hard-working, law-abiding, farmers doesn't win friends in the farming community.

Engaging in abusive behaviour and name calling and then justifying it by blaming the victims doesn't help your mission.

Negativity eventually wears out its welcome and may generate a "raised level of anger."

Of course, you could easily be describing your own side in this discussion as well.
Would we call that ironic or hypocritical... or both?

I would think that many of the parts you sell to your customers can be bought at a fraction of the cost across the border . So do you source south of the border or do you support local distributors ?

He doesn't acknowledge lower US prices which might explain his failure to respond.


Most of my parts are sourced from distributors all over Canada including Orillia, Drummondville Quebec, Stratford, Marham, London, Edmonton and thetford mines Quebec. The weakness is in your quote "do I source local distributors?". Thoes distributors you speak of that are based in Canada source virtually all of their parts from all over the world and would not exist if they couldn't, in much the same way as BRP does for their engines(rotax, made in Austria), and much of their production of parts that is based in Mexico, thanks to NAFTA. I do buy about 10% of my parts directly from the USA. And why not? If a 5800 member dairy cooperative can import milk proteins for its new yogurt line up, to save money, why can't I?
Raube Beuerman

Yeah, well if you check out the tariff rates the US has, you can find some canadian agricultural products that are slapped with a 350% tariff rate.

Go figure. Looks like the US protects some of there products.

Right on!
There is a long list of US taxpayer funded ag subsidies

US government sets a quota on US production. Imports are restricted. USDA buys excess production and sells it to ethanol producers at a loss.
Meanwhile they cut the food stamp program. Great place to be a consumer or a taxpayer

..and we wonder why Atwood doesn't have a grocery store anymore

When I was in high school, myself and a few other neighbours and friends would go and catch chickens for a chicken farmer 10 miles from where I live. We were paid over $20 an hour which was expected and fair considering the hours were inconvenient, the work was dirty and dusty, although not extremely hard by any means. If today, we adjust those numbers with inflation we would now be over $30 an hour. Considering the tens of thousands in 'free' quota allotments over the years, and the level of government protection, I am sure that these farmers can pay that amount, hence there would be no need to source cheap labour. Do you see the double standard, or do I need to keep explaining it to you? Raube Beuerman

Me thinks you fail to understand that you can put the wage as high as you want but the problem is in finding workers who do not think they are too good to do that work any more . Hence the reason for others to come here to do the work . Most young persons any more could not put down their phone or game controller long enough to take a bathroom break let alone work for a few hours straight .

l agree with you, as someone who has always done a considerable amount of small hay baling it has become almost impossible to find young people that want to do that sort of manual labour.
l must admit l see the "Chicken catchers required" ads in the paper all the time so l thing they are in the same boat.

No, I don't see the double standard at all. Its about cash flow for most farmers.

What I do see is someone that should get some post-secondary education so you can get a secure job in stead of very short term work. Chicken catching is great money for immediate needs.

Maybe Thompson can recommend something is economics?

how about we put a 250% tariff on foreign labour, yet mandate that any farmer protected by the same amount of tariffs, must use that labour.

Judging from the private e-mails and phone calls, as well as people who stop to talk to me on the street, the preponderance of the feedback I get is that I'm completely correct, and, if anything, I'm not critical enough.
Get with it, people, there is a visceral dislike of supply management among younger farmers, and if you don't like the criticism now, it's only going to get worse - the more you try to defend the indefensible, the more visceral the dislike becomes.
If you want positive, then read the drivel coming from SM 5 as they try to make it appear that supply management is all benefit and no cost, when it's been undisputed economic truth for close to 175 years that tariff-based systems, like supply management, are always net-negative.
If anything, negativity comes from those who continually want to deny economic reality, as well as preserve the absolute advantage they enjoy over others.
It's always been a truism that "honest debate" is defined as coming from someone who agrees with you, while "negativity" comes from someone who doesn't - it's funny how most of the bitterness and rancor, as well as anonymous "how-dare-you" verbiage on this site comes from those with legislated priveleges to defend.

Stephen Thompson, Clinton ON

One of the hottest trends in food marketing these days is the local food movement.Promoting the benefits of buying Agricultural products grown right in consumers backyards is breaking through in nearly every sector.The question of where our food is grown and processed is coming under increased scrutiny,not just in Canada but other countries as well,including our trading partners.Statistics show that Canadian consumers are willing to pay more if the product is local and supports Canadian farmers and what can be more in tune with the local food movement than the Supply management sector?
l just don't think those egg-heads at the Conference Board of Canada are even listening to what Canadians want and they sure are not on the same wave-link as the majority of Politicians.

I think you may be incorrectly equating opinion polls with statistics - while opinion polls might indicate at least a few Canadian consumers are willing to pay more if the product is local, ie, made in Ontario for example, the constant stream of Canadian consumers travelling to the US to buy dairy and poultry products clearly tells a different story.
In addition, the real problem with the whole local food movement is that it is, for the most part, thinly-disguised protectionism which, rather than being of benefit to consumers and the economy, is no such thing at all.
Consider, for example, that if there was a dairy processing plant in Buffalo, and if it processed milk produced in that area of New York State, it would provide consumers in the Niagara Peninsula with milk produced more "locally" than would a processing plant in Toronto.
Therefore, to support supply management because of the local food shibboleth, is just more grasping at straws by defenders of a marketing system with no economic reason to even exist.
And as for "egg-heads" at the Conference Board of Canada, yessiree, Bob, it's always OK for supply management supporters to engage in the type of rhetoric they claim to abhor when supposedly done to them.

Stephen Thompson, Clinton ON

Yes the first thing that comes to mind is do as I say and not as I do .
The old political double standard . Many are not afraid to do the same whether it be in their shopping practices or their rants . Face to face people will tell you what they think you want to hear . As soon as they think you are not looking they do or say different . They are copying what they see in those who they are suppose to trust .

Egghead: A person of spurious intellectual pretensions.l think l hit the nail on the head with that reference!
The trouble with the Conference board of Can. is they have no vision,along with absolutely no idea of what Agriculture is all about.They sit at their Computors and type in numbers and say "well if we do this,this should happen!" ..and the worst part is they are guessing! They would throw Supply Management under the same bus that has driving back and forth over the Beef and Pork sectors for years, not to mention a few other agr sectors...a Bus driven by Uncle Sam!

It's farmers, with their willfull blindness to basic economics, who have no vision, and who believe, quite incorrectly, that their own view of things should prevail.
It's farmers who refuse to understand that 15,000 quota owners can, and do, throw over 33 million consumers "under the bus" every day.
Get over your smugness, my friend, views like yours have no place in agriculture, and are exactly the reason supply management is not well-liked, and will not be missed.

Stephen Thompson, Clinton ON

You can cover up for your buddies all you want but the fact is the Conference Board of Can. deal in numbers.Farmers deal in numbers as well but we all know what adds up this week might not add up the same next week.Forecasts and priorities on the farm change monthly, weekly (sometimes even daily).One can look at the Executive of the CBof C and see Professors,book publishers,research managers,Chartered Accountants, and even a Parliamentary correspondent for The Globe and Mail’s report on business (which didn't surprise me in the least!)..but l see absolutely no Agriculture link to any of them? fact l bet there is not a copy of Better Farming sitting on any of their desks!! we all laughed when Premier Wynne took over the Agr minister job with no experience!

The purpose of any education is to learn, and more importantly, to understand the difference between what is a myth, and what is supportable by reason and logic.
One of the saddest things about agriculture is that so-many farmers are always so-quick to dismiss the analysis of people who know what they are talking about and have something to say, simply because they don't have "dirt on their boots" - which in "farmer-speak" means they don't unabashedly support protectionist principles.
That's, unfortunately, why so-many farmers still support supply management, and even ethanol, in spite of the fact that basic economic principles, and even common sense, have dictated for almost 175 years, that the fundamentals underpinning them both, are net-negative, and therefore, poor public policy.
I mean, really, given agriculture's willing blindness about the flaws of protectionism, the fact of the matter is that these people were chosen to be at the Conference Board of Canada because they know more about agriculture than 99% of agriculture knows about agriculture.

Stephen Thompson, Clinton ON

The future road of agriculture looks to be paved in stone that bigger is the only way to go . Many have said if you are not expanding then you are going backwards . It can be seen in every sector of agriculture . Hog farms , cash crop , beef dairy , poultry , fruit & veg . It always has been and will be harder for the younger generation to get started if they do at all . Gone are the days of buying the farm from your father or neighbor , marrying the love of your life , living happily ever after on your farm and raising a family . It takes big bucks to farm any more and not many parents can help each son or daughter get started unless it is a corporation of a big size . The snowball rolling down the hill just keeps eating up everthing in it's path and does not stop . We will likely see more consolidation of businesses and farms . There will likely be more lifestyle farmers of a size that no one will want to represent because their size does not fit the criteria and many young people will likely fall into that class . It is too bad but that is the way of the future and the CBOC does not to me have that in their sights as of yet . We are just climbing to the top of that hill right now . Even with out SM it will still be a very limited amount of farm enterprises producing the bulk of the food and they will be price setters and not price takers .

Maybe we could get a tariff put on green energy and the GEA . It would stop the rape and pilage of the people from our gov as demonstrated in a study by Ross McKitrick .

Post new comment

To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.
We welcome thoughtful comments and ideas. Comments must be on topic. Cheap shots, unsubstantiated allegations, anonymous attacks or negativity directed against people and organizations will not be published. Comments are modified or deleted at the discretion of the editors. If you wish to be identified by name, which will give your opinion far more weight and provide a far greater chance of being published, leave a telephone number so that identity can be confirmed. The number will not be published.