Manitoba agriculture economists earn national award

Paper examining impact of supply management on consumer welfare in poorer households was controversial but widely read

A controversial paper on the welfare effects of supply management in poorer households by two University of Manitoba economists has earned a national award.

Agricultural economists Ryan Cardwell and Chad Lawley earned the John Vanderkamp Prize from the Canadian Economics Association earlier this month, awarded for the best paper in the journal Canadian Public Policy.

Their article, “Milked and Feathered: The Regressive Welfare Effects of Canada’s Supply Management Regime” was published in the journal with co-author Di Xiang, Lawley’s former PhD student, who is now a professor at the Southwestern University of Finance and Economics in China.

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“It’s great to be recognized for our contribution to the debate over this contentious policy issue,” Cardwell said.

In the paper, the researchers showed Canada’s system of supply management for dairy and poultry industries is extremely regressive because it imposes relatively larger economic burdens on poor households than on rich households.

Their findings were not warmly received by proponents of supply management, but their results have received widespread media attention, the university noted in a release.

When the paper was published Cardwell noted all three major political parties were staunch supporters of a policy that impedes access to healthy foods, especially for poor consumers, and that the policy counteracts poverty-reduction measures and healthy-eating initiatives from various levels of government.

On May 31, Member of Parliament Maxime Bernier, a candidate for leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada, wrote an op-ed for the National Post about how he has changed his stance on the matter. Bernier’s official statement on supply management policies quotes the research of Cardwell, Lawley and Xiang.

For more information about the paper, an online lecture is available.

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