[CHARLOTTETOWN, PE] — The provincial government has joined the ranks of provinces opposed to eliminating supply management for farms as part of a trade agreement with Europe.
On Friday, Agriculture Minister George Webster said the government sent a letter to his federal counterpart recently to oppose any changes to the quota system for certain agricultural industries.
Webster said supply management has served P.E.I. and the rest of Canada well over the last 30 years.
“It’s a great system,” he said.
In Canada, dairy, poultry and egg farmers operate under a supply management system that sets quotas based on the market demand in order to give producers fair returns.
Imported commodities are also subject to high tariffs, which limits what comes into the country.
It’s a system that kept some farming sectors stable while others stumbled under plummeting prices, such as the hog and beef industries.
That could come to an end with the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement if eliminating supply management is one of the concessions as part of Canada signing on to the agreement.
Webster said there is a growing trend towards globalization with more international trade.
“The landscape is slowly changing so certainly there are always high-level decisions made on those issues and negotiations go on certainly before decisions are made,” he said.
With that in mind, it’s important to make sure the province’s wishes are known, Webster said.
“Our wishes are certainly to protect the supply management system we have, but yet have some level of globalization to it as well.”
Webster said the government sent the letter to federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz after Ontario and Quebec, which have the biggest share of the quota system, asked P.E.I. to re-affirm its support for supply management.
“We, of course, do all the time,” he said.
With producers in other countries that work on a much larger scale than Island farmers ever could, Webster said eliminating supply management would have a big impact.
“It’s just a different economy out there and for us to actually play in that world would be more of a challenge for our producers,” he said.