La Coop Takes a Stand

by Ghislain Gervais - président

The French-Canadian manifesto “Refus global” was secretly published in 1948. The document, whose main author was artist and painter Paul-Émile Borduas, rejected religious dogma and criticised the darkness and narrow mindedness that stifled Quebec society.

Thank goodness times have changed and our society has evolved since then, in part thanks to the many artists who co-signed the manifesto.

Another reason to be thankful is that La Coop fédérée has no reason to conceal its position on supply management. In fact, it has stated its position loud and strong, and in every forum, that it is opposed to any breach in supply management resulting from NAFTA negotiations.

During a press conference last January, and with the support of my colleagues from the Canadian and Quebec poultry industry, I released a report conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) on behalf of La Coop fédérée. The report, with the numbers to support its conjecture, outlined the setbacks the Canadian poultry industry would experience should supply management be dismantled as per the Trump administration’s insistence.

The study shows, among other things, that 58,000 to 80,000 Canadian jobs would be jeopardised in the poultry industry alone should supply management completely disappear. Furthermore, we can expect Canada’s market share in egg production to drop by as much as 80 to 90%, which means that it would only represent a mere 10% of what it is at this time. As for its market share in the chicken industry, it would drop by 40 to 70%. Another consequence: The vast majority of the Canadian turkey industry would probably disappear. In economic terms, these changes would translate into Canada’s GDP dropping from $4.6 to $6.3 billion.

Among other things, the study revealed that in a context of deregulation, any advantages in terms of consumer prices for agricultural products, whatever has been said, are highly improbable.

The conclusions established in the PwC report support those of a study conducted in 2015 by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) on behalf of Agropur. BCG reached the same conclusion and indicated that, in the dairy industry, the end of supply management would jeopardise 24,000 jobs and the survival of 6,000 Canadian dairy farms.

When addressing the press, I used the same words printed black on white in the historic manifesto published 70 years ago this year: “This is our Total Refusal.”

This is obviously a very different kind of total refusal, but it nonetheless protests darkness and narrow mindedness.

Supply management has proven itself over and over again. It must be maintained. This opinion is also shared by Prime Minister Couillard and Premier Trudeau.

Canada’s Premier has repeatedly stressed “every country, without exception, protects its agriculture in one way or another. Supply management is a system that works and it meets the needs and expectations of Canadian consumers.” 

We think that defending this system in its entirety is essential. For us, this is non negotiable. Period. 

Happy Harvest!

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