Courting (Dairy) Disaster

As you know from my previous post this week, we – as in, the entire Canadian dairy industry – are waiting with bated breath to hear the results of the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations that are happening this week in Atlanta, GA.  Supposedly, everything will be signed/sealed/delivered by the end of this week, a.k.a. TODAY.

It’s difficult to know what to do or how to feel as we wait for these negotiations to close and for the “deal” to be completed.  It could turn out that nothing much changes and that we can continue on with our business pretty much the same as it is operating now.  But it could also turn out to be disastrous.

Someone asked me today what we – this time, we as in myself, my husband and my in-laws – would do if supply management was ever eliminated.  Although we were confident that we didn’t need to go in-depth with any plans, we have talked about this scenario before.  Despite that, my response to this person was, “Most likely, without a supply management system in place at all, we would have to sell.  We wouldn’t want to sell, we would have to.”

I cannot imagine selling our farm.  I cannot imagine having to come to that decision with not only my husband but also and especially with my in-laws.  These two people have worked so incredibly hard to build this farm up to what it is now.  They have been nothing but supportive and open to new ideas from Andrew and I, and are always asking what we think – even though the vast majority of this operation still belongs to them.  They are so proud of us and are so happy we decided to come home to farm.  And the grandkids?  Sheesh!  Forget about it.  (To say they are happy to have Bella and Cash on the farm and in our lives would be the biggest understatement of the century.)

So I can’t fathom not farming with them, and I can’t fathom them not farming at all. My brain will simply not compute that.

Do I think these TPP negotiations will result in our worst case scenario?  No.  Not this time, at least.

But let me put it to you this way.

If our current government can take a well thought out, efficiently functioning, revenue generating, non-subsidized supply management program that benefits ALL Canadians by providing jobs, economic growth, stability and, of course, high quality, local, safe dairy products at a competitive price… and put it on the bargaining table to be chipped away at…

I am truly afraid of what the future could bring for the Canadian dairy industry.

p.s.

I wanted to include this commercial from Dairy Farmers of Canada for you to watch quickly.  I saw it on TV today and I actually started to tear up.  I figure it’s because I’m not sure this commercial – that represents the true stories and livelihoods of thousands of farmers across the country – would be able to feature the next generation.  When the elderly farmer is walking in from the barn for supper, is there a son or daughter that was walking just behind him?  A grandchild, maybe?  Who is the next generation to follow in this old farmer’s footsteps?

Without supply management, I’m not sure there could be one.


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