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Maintaining A Supply Management System

co-operator staff/ portage la prairie

Protecting the future of supply management wasn t on the agenda at the October 11 district meeting of the Dairy Farmers of Manitoba, but it did generate discussion.

I always have concern about supply management, we try to maintain the position we are in, said Norbert Rey, who farms with two sons between St. Claude and Portage la Prairie. There are people who would like to see the open market, but we must always be on guard to protect what we have in place.

Changes the federal government plans to make to the Canadian Wheat Board prompted the concerns, however Dairy Farmer s chairman David Wiens pointed to key differences between the two supply management systems.

He noted the CWB is export oriented, while dairy is generally domestic, and that there is no factional divide within the dairy industry.

I m at ease, or comfortable, that our federal government and for that matter the provincial government, have a good understanding of supply management and what it takes for it to be successful, he said.

Wiens said dairy producers have a good relationship with the federal government, and have worked with them to protect producers in World Trade Organization and CETA discussions.

But we don t take that for granted, I think that conversation needs to be an ongoing conversation so that we remain current and relevant, he said. You don t assume support, you always work to build support.

He said the economic climate has changed worldwide over the last decade, and others at the meeting agreed it can be difficult to know what changes lie ahead.

The only constant is that nothing is constant, the only thing that doesn t change is change, said Martin Leyenhorst who farms near St. Claude. I m fairly confident that it s not going to change soon, but long term, I expect change at some point. But what kind of change who knows?

shannon. [email protected]

About the author

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Shannon VanRaes is a journalist and photojournalist at the Manitoba Co-operator. She also writes a weekly urban affairs column for Metro Winnipeg, and has previously reported for the Winnipeg Sun, Outwords Magazine and the Portage Daily Graphic.

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