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Home Policy Articles: Regional & Sectoral: Agriculture


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"Free Trade:" Is it Working for Farmers?

Darrin Qualman’s article “Free Trade:” Is it Working for Farmers? argues that free trade agreements have dramatically altered the relative size and market power of players in the agri-food production chain. While Canadian agri-food exports have experienced dramatic increases since the institution of free trade agreements, realized net farm income has remained stagnant. Qualman claims free trade has two effects on agriculture: 1) it turns the world into a single hyper-competitive market, and 2) it facilitates agribusiness mergers and conglomeration.

A Conceptual Comparative Analysis Between the British and Canadian Mad Cow Crisis: The Cost of Living

This paper compares and contrasts the ways in which the BSE crisis affected Britain in 1996 and Canada in 2003.

Agricultural Land Trusts: Preserving Small Town Heritage

In this report Blair Hamilton examines whether or not an agricultural land trust is suitable for the Rural Municipality of Franklin, Manitoba.

Agricultural Trade Disputes Between Canada and the United States: Costly but Diminishing

In this Commentary Richard Barichello, Timothy Josling and Daniel Summer discuss the many trade disputes involving agricultural products that have arisen between the United States and Canada. As they explain, the development of free trade between the two nations has resulted in a high level of integration between their agricultural markets.When trade disputes develop, however, they are costly for both consumers and producers. Accordingly, the purpose of the authors study is to help reduce the number of agricultural trade disputes by better understanding them.

Assessing the Viability of an Ethanol Industry in Saskatchewan

This paper explores five key questions that require attention in the determination of the viability of an ethanol industry for a small jurisdiction with a small local ethanol demand.

Australia's Dairy Reforms: Lessons for Canada

The ultimate objective of Paul Earl’s study is the potential applicability of the Australian experience to Canada’s Supply Management system. To this end, he presents some statistics on dairy farming in Australia, outlines the previous price support and subsidy regime, reviews the main features of the new program that was introduced, and describes some of the major impacts of the change.

Beyond Factory Farming: Corporate Hog Barns and the Threat to Public Health, the Environment and Rural Communities

This publication, edited by Ervin, Holtslander, Qualman and Sawa, examines modern hog production. Modern hog production does not merely mean more hogs in larger barns; today, new operations such as Intensive Livestock Operations (ILOs) or Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) are emerging.

Dairy production: the costs of supply management in Canada

In this economic note, Valentin Petkantchin argues that supply management is a needlessly costly system, particularly for Canada’s dairy industry.

Great Wine, Better Cheese: How Canada Can Escape the Trap of Agricultural Supply Management

Michael Hart argues that when it comes to agricultural supply management in Canada, self-deception has been the order of the day for too long. He suggests that consumers are encouraged to deceive themselves into believing that high prices and little choice are the necessary costs of reliable supply; similarly, producers are deceive themselves by thinking that stable prices and assured returns are better than the vagaries of competition. Hart argues that this mindset must change, citing examples from the Canadian wine industry and the Australian dairy industry to demonstrate how this can be done.

Life After Subsidies

This Frontier Centre Backgrounder, reprinted from an article published by the Federated Farmers of New Zealand, discusses the elimination of farming subsidies in New Zealand. In the mid-1980s New Zealand farmers faced the unexpected removal of all government subsidies and support. The article concludes that these farmers are now stronger than ever after being forced to face market conditions. According to the introduction to the article, authored by Robert D. Sopuck of the Frontier Centre, such positive results demonstrate that farmers need not rely on “state charity.” Sopuck claims, furthermore, that the elimination of subsidies should be explored for Canadian farming.

Living in a Sea of Cheap Grain: The Corporate Conversion of Saskatchewan's Hog Production Policy

Cathy Holtslander, writing for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, explores how industrial livestock operations have come to dominate Saskatchewan’s hog industry. Holtslander points out that, from 12,000 hog farms in 1976, Saskatchewan’s hog industry is comprised of only four major producers today.

Mission Possible: A Canadian Resources Strategy for the Boom and Beyond

In this report, Gilles Rheaume and John Roberts argue that Canada is well positioned to benefit from increased demand for resources in the global economy.

Pork Barrel Protectionism: US Anti-Dumping Duties on Canadian Hogs

The US government has slapped duties on live hogs and piglets from Canada in response to a trade complaint from the National Pork Production Council in the United States. Rolf Penner posits that the Pork Council’s motives for the complaint are suspect: the group alleges Canadian producers are dumping into the American market below the cost of production; Penner suggests that the data used to justify the complaint, however, are highly speculative.

Reforming dairy supply management in Canada: an Australian example

Although Canada’s dairy industry received a reprieve after World Trade Organization (WTO) talks in Hong Kong in December 2005, Valentin Petkantchin contends the industry’s supply management system needs reform over the longer term.

Saskatchewan's Farm Income Crisis

The 2003 release of net farm income estimates for Saskatchewan shows that the Province’s farmers experienced their worst losses in history. Darrin Qualman looks at Saskatchewan farm incomes since World War II, and attempts to determine why the crisis gripping Saskatchewan farm families is intensifying.

Should Canadians Be Concerned? Food Safety in Canada

Canada has one of the safest food safety systems in the world. While government is ultimately responsible for food safety, everyone involved in the production and consumption of food from farm to plate contributes.

The Farm Crisis, Bigger Farms and the Myths of "Competition" and "Efficiency"

Darrin Qualman and Fred Tait outline the plan governments and agribusinesses have for Canadian farmers: essentially, driven by competition and aided by technology, Canadian farms must become larger and more efficient, though less numerous.

The Structural Adjustment of Canadian Agriculture

The term “Structural Adjustment Program” is most often associated with International Monetary Fund (IMF) reform requirements for loans in developing countries. As the authors of The Structural Adjustment of Canadian Agriculture argue, however, Government of Canada agricultural policy has many of the same effects. In both cases, Darrin Qualman and Nettie Wiebe assert, the result is an aggravation of poverty, increased disempowerment, and family breakdown for much of the target population.