(Ottawa) MPs are rallying to strengthen Canada’s price protection system for dairy and poultry products in trade deals and urge developing countries to do the same.
The House of Commons International Trade Committee on Thursday completed its final review of a Bloc Québécois bill aimed at tying the hands of trade negotiators so that new agreements do not harm the supply management system. , which concerns dairy products, eggs and poultry.
Since 1972, Ottawa and the provinces have regulated the supply and cost of eggs, dairy products and poultry through high tariffs on imports. Slight changes have been made to trade agreements over the past decade, which have drawn the ire of Canada’s powerful farm lobby.
The bill would make it harder for negotiators to give ground on a system that its proponents say maintains a stable supply for Canadians and protects farms, but which critics say increases the cost of grocery bills and drives farmers to throw away millions of gallons of perfectly good milk.
In a report Tuesday, the House Agriculture Committee called on Ottawa to further protect the system and use it as a model for developing countries that want greater food sovereignty, by being less dependent on imports. .
The idea stems from the November testimony of Michael Fakhri, the UN special rapporteur on the right to food. He noted the desire of poorer countries for stable food, which can be obtained by stockpiling food and manipulating its price in the market.
“Canada has been really successful in keeping prices stable through supply management systems,” he said.
“The Canadian experience is something that can be shared,” he stressed.
Supply management is widely considered a sacred cow in Canadian politics, with the agricultural sector using its influence across the country to push parties to maintain the status quo.
Conservative leaders who advocate less intervention in the market are often reluctant to change supply management, with current leader Pierre Poilievre and former party leader Andrew Scheer arguing that changes to the regime would hurt farmers.
Bill C-282, which seeks to protect supply-managed sectors in trade negotiations, passed the House of Commons at second reading by a vote of 293 to 23. Opponents of the bill are mostly Prairie Conservatives.
Bloc MP Simon-Pierre Savard-Tremblay said on Twitter that the trade committee returned the bill to the House on Thursday for an additional vote. Its adoption would then kick off the deliberations of the Senate.
Livestock and lentil industry lobbyists have opposed the bill, saying it would force countries to seek concessions in trade deals that target agricultural sectors that are not under supply management, particularly those who depend on the export of products.
International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development Minister Mary Ng says her government supports the bill.
“I believe we are able to negotiate strong agreements that provide good market access for our Canadian exporters while protecting supply management,” she told the House Trade Committee last month. last.