QUÉBEC, Feb. 16, 2016 /CNW Telbec/ - Fédération des producteurs acéricoles du Québec (FPAQ) and Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA) sharply criticize the Gagné Report for its lack of seriousness, objectivity, analysis, and economic foundation with regard to the future of Québec maple syrup. "The report's recommendations will lead the maple syrup industry to ruin. Mr. Gagné's goal is not to give the industry a boost, but rather to knock the legs from under it," FPAQ president Serge Beaulieu said today at a big meeting in front of the Québec National Assembly. A group of over 1,000 maple syrup producers braved the bad weather in order to say NO to the Gagné Report and YES to prosperity in their sector through their collective development tools.
"The Gagné report has all the ingredients for destroying the joint plan and disabling the mechanisms democratically implemented by the producers. It is clearly a deliberate attack on collective marketing that begins in the maple syrup sector and could ultimately extend to others," added UPA president Marcel Groleau.
Mr. Gagné founded his report on a false premise. According to him, Québec's market share fell from 80% to 70%, losing 10% of its market to the Americans. Nothing could be further from the truth! In fact, Québec has held 75% of the global maple syrup market over the years on average, with some ups and downs. What he fails to mention, however, is that year after year, sales have risen at an impressive rate. As recently as 2015, the sales agency achieved record sales and the amount of maple syrup sold has grown by 11% per year over the past 5 years! If Bombardier could boast such results, no one would say it was in trouble! The report is therefore completely unfounded!
A return to 1980s economics
Analysis of this report reveals a number of irresponsible and disconcerting recommendations, some of which will lead to the downfall of Québec maple syrup leaders, as well as a clear desire to set the industry back 40 years. "Such an about-face will cause extreme price variations, inconsistent quality, producers who are no longer able to makes ends meet, decreased investments in businesses, and financial institutions that will stop financing us because they won't know if we will be able to sell our syrup or for how much. Is that what you call a strong and competitive industry?" noted Mr. Beaulieu, indicating that FPAQ has been waiting about a year for Régie des marchés agricoles et alimentaires du Québec to answer its request to increase production quotas. Had the Régie met FPAQ's request, there would be an additional half a million taps in Québec this spring.
Disastrous financial consequences
The report does not take into account the loss of value sugar bush owners would face if quotas were removed. The income stability quotas bring allowed producers to borrow money to improve their equipment and develop their sugar bushes. The loss of production quotas—and the heightened insecurity regarding future prospects that will generate—will quickly reduce the value of assets currently estimated at $2 billion. What will creditors say about this loss? How will this affect municipal taxes? No analysis of the economic repercussions has been presented: it's irresponsible!
Mr. Gagné's solution for developing our markets is to use public funds to finance the strategic reserve and let prices float in hopes that they will drop so we become more competitive. As if the threat from Québec would magically cause the Americans to give up and abandon the market. "Québec is still by far the locomotive of the maple syrup industry. And the fact that the Americans have hitched their wagons to it is far from a bad thing," added Mr. Groleau. "The global market has room for all the maple syrup being produced—especially the high quality syrup from Québec. There's no need to give our product away for free."
Troubling legal issues
To justify the transfer of extraordinary powers to Minister Pierre Paradis, the Gagné Report goes so far as to call into question the Régie's impartiality. It even gives the agriculture minister the power to set guidelines in the development of joint plans, marketing agreements, and all implementing regulations. Giving a ministry such power over a quasi-judicial organization such as the Régie is not only unprecedented, but also poses legal issues that the minister will not be able to sweep away with the back of his hand. The separation of power between the executive and judiciary is one of the founding principals of our society.
The pillars of the maple syrup industry in danger
The joint plan, the Global Strategic Maple Syrup Reserve, the sales agency, and production quotas are the pillars Québec's maple syrup marketing system. They have allowed us to propel our industry into the modern era in a spectacular fashion. Thanks to these marketing tools, Québec producers set two new records in 2015: 103.3 million pounds of maple syrup sold and 92.8 million pounds exported from Canada. "Minister Paradis is going to destroy the pillars that have made our industry so strong for 16 years," said the FPAQ president. "Québec maple syrup producers will not stand for it. We fought hard to put them in place, and we will fight just as hard to protect them!"
fpaq.ca – @AcericoleQc
SOURCE Union des producteurs agricoles
For further information: Patrice Juneau, Senior Advisor, Public Affairs and Media Relations, Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA), 450-679-0540, ext. 8591, 514-702-8591, firstname.lastname@example.org; Caroline Cyr Communications Officer, Fédération des producteurs acéricoles du Québec, 450 679-7021, ext. 8609, email@example.com