New Brunswick Green Party President Warns New Brunswick Government's Supply Management Failures Will Undermine Chicken Supply Management Across Canada

FREDERICTON, Nov. 29, 2011 /CNW/ - Long time environmental activist and New Brunswick Green Party President, Janice Harvey, took aim recently at the New Brunswick Conservative government's failure to regulate supply management in the province's chicken industry.  In one of her regular columns in New Brunswick's provincial newspaper, she pointed out that the government's failure to monitor and manage the chicken industry as called for in federal/provincial legislation has allowed the establishment of a vertically integrated monopoly in the New Brunswick chicken industry, a US model supply management was designed to prevent by protecting family farms. "It's ironic that as the supply management debate heats up in Canada prior to another round of trade talks, few realize that New Brunswick is already well down  the road to abandoning  the system in the chicken industry, possibly setting a precedent for other provinces."

Harvey warns that the regulatory failure of Alward's Conservative government will be the "unravelling of poultry supply management in eastern Canada," suggesting as well that in such an integrated system, the whole system could be compromised across Canada by weakening "one link in the chain."

A long time sustainability proponent, Harvey well understands the dangers of the US model of agriculture. Pointed to by some experts as unsustainable, the US industrialized factory farming model involves large scale "farm to fork" operations, producing, slaughtering and often distributing their own products and attempting to control pricing and restrict competition. While economies of scale may result in what appear to be cheaper prices for US consumers, there are steep hidden costs for cheap food. Factory farming has often been criticized for its lack of sustainability and the negative impacts to the environment, rural communities, animal health and welfare, and food safety, quality and security which can go along with them. In addition, millions of dollars in direct farm subsidies are paid out each year in the US to supplement the income of struggling farmers, resulting in market distortion.

By contrast, the Canadian supply management system is sustainable in its very essence. Supply management ensures that: no Canadian tax dollars are used for farm subsidies; family farms continue to exist and farmers are fairly compensated, and that Canadian consumers continue to enjoy locally produced food, and high quality products at stable, reasonable costs. Given Canadian consumers' rising concerns over food safety and the growing desire for locally grown, sustainable food sources, sustainable forms of domestic agriculture are more relevant now than ever before.

According to a Leger Marketing survey, 85 per cent of Canadians believe that the federal government must support the supply management approach to dairy, poultry and egg farming. The same survey revealed that 98 per cent feel it is important for Canadians to have access to a stable supply of made-in-Canada food. The public clearly understands that, given the always present threat of trade wars, embargoes, pandemics, weather volatility and political unrest worldwide, reducing Canada's dependency on outside food sources is more important than ever before.

However, despite their public pledge to protect Canada's supply management systems, the Federal Conservative Government has adopted a hands-off position and described New Brunswick's failure to uphold the chicken supply management system as a "provincial issue". Federal Minister of Agriculture, Gerry Ritz, although aware of potential threat to the poultry industry across Canada, refuses to intervene.

Meanwhile, concern in Canada's egg, milk and poultry industry continues to grow, questioning the Harper government's true support for supply management as the Trans Pacific trade negotiations loom.

About Janice Harvey  

Currently a PhD candidate at the University of New Brunswick, Janice spent 25 years as head of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick. An environmental activist since the 70s, she helped establish the Fundy Baykeeper program, was Vice President of Friends of the Earth Canada and Chair of the Canadian and New Brunswick Environmental Networks.

NB's Green Party

Harvey was a Green Party candidate in the 2010 New Brunswick provincial election. The Party's platform included "Reviving Family Farms and Building Food Security" as its #2 priority, listing increasing local food production and providing more economic power to farmers by supporting marketing cooperatives, collective marketing, single desk initiatives and supply management systems.

Click link for Janice Harvey's commentary published in the Telegraph Journal October, 2011.

Ms. Harvey has granted permission for reprints of her column.

SOURCE Janice Harvey

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Norah Mallory

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