Op-Ed Article - By Roelf Woldring, General Manager of the Chicken Farmers of Ontario - Supply Management is a Canadian Success Story For Consumers and Producers An International Model for Doing Agriculture the Right Way



    OTTAWA, March 19 /CNW Telbec/ -

    By Roelf Woldring, General Manager, Chicken Farmers of Ontario

    This week, as chicken farmers from across Ontario gather for their annual
general meeting, a key issue on everyone's mind is the Doha Round of World
Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations on agriculture, and the impact it may
have on consumers and the businesses and livelihoods of Ontario's 1,100
chicken farmers.
    The Doha Round of WTO negotiations is fundamentally about fairness, about
ensuring a level playing field between countries. As part of this process, the
WTO is taking a cold, hard look at how member countries subsidize their
agricultural industries.
    Chicken farmers understand why the world needs to reach an agreement to
end subsidies. Subsidies use government money to distort the global
agricultural marketplace. But Canadian agricultural supply management is the
opposite of a subsidy, it relies entirely on income earned through the market
to operate.
    Like many Ontarians, you've probably just asked yourself, "Why is this
important to me?" Let me tell you why.
    Unlike farmers in the United States, the European Union and many other
countries, Canadian dairy, poultry and egg farmers receive no government
subsidies.
    All of our farm income, all of the money we use to manage our sectors,
and all of the money we use to market our products... every penny of it... we
earn through the marketplace. We do not receive, ask for, or want government
subsidies. Period.
    Like any entrepreneurs, supply managed farmers expect their farming
businesses to provide a reasonable, sustainable, market-based return, with an
annual income related to the energy and investment they make in their
operations. By marketing their products through supply management, farmers
enhance the value created by their participation in Canada's profit-oriented
food value chain.
    Like any business, there are many costs associated with becoming a
chicken farmer including the cost of land, equipment, feed, birds,
electricity, labour and acquiring quote. These costs are no different than
anyone starting a new business in any sector.
    Where supply managed agriculture differs from other industries is in its
emphasis on balancing the need to provide our customers with reasonably
priced, plentiful food products, with the need to ensure that these products
are safe, nutritious and high quality. Consumers have exceptionally high
expectations about the food they buy. And through supply management, Ontario's
chicken farmers deliver.
    The costs of meeting these high consumer expectations are not paid by
governments or hidden in agricultural subsidies. They are part of a farmer's
cost of doing business and are factored in to the price of our products.
    Over and over, consumer research has proven that Canadians benefit from
supply management because:

    - it offers access to safe, Canadian grown poultry;
    - it provides a stable supply of affordable, high-quality food; and
    - it does not require taxpayer-funded subsidies.

    Supply managed agriculture delivers many less tangible benefits, as well.
As rural-based small businesses, we are the foundation of Canada's rural
economy. Supply managed farmers buy goods and services in small communities,
pay for rural infrastructure, and are the reason that many towns and villages
are able to survive.
    All of that will be at risk if the WTO negotiations go poorly.
    Supply management is an ongoing Canadian success story that proves food
production can be managed efficiently, and in a way that benefits consumers,
government and farmers. Rather than risk losing it, we believe the Canadian
government and WTO policy makers should be studying its successes and using it
as a model for how to manage agriculture the right way.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Roelf Woldring is General Manager of the Chicken Farmers of Ontario

    Chicken Farmers of Ontario (CFO) is a farmer-run, non-profit organization
representing more than 1,100 Ontario chicken farmers. It has been in existence
since 1965 and operates under a marketing system known as "supply management"
or "orderly marketing."
    Ontario is the largest producer, processor and consumer of chicken in
Canada. Over 1,100 of Canada's 2800 chicken farmers live in Ontario. They
produce more than 303 million kilograms of chicken meat annually, valued at
over 467 million dollars before it leaves the farm.
    CFO is accountable to the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission, an
agency of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food.




For further information:

For further information: Barbara Campbell, (416) 360-6183 x223 or Pierre
Leduc, cel. (416) 859-8562

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Chicken Farmers of Ontario

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