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Recent poll shows Canadians approve of supply management
June 1, 2017

On May 26th, Campaign Research published the results of a poll asking Canadians whether or not they approve or disapprove of supply management. The results of this poll are both clear, and staggering: 75% of Canadians approve of supply management.

The 1,969 respondents to the poll were asked two questions.

“Canada protects its dairy and poultry industries from foreign imports with tariffs and price supports. Do you approve or disapprove of this?”

“Canada’s protection of its dairy and poultry industries means Canadians pay more for milk, cheese, chicken, and eggs than Americans do. Do you approve or disapprove of trade protection for dairy and poultry?”

Unfortunately, Campaign Research did not release the name of the individual or organization that sponsored this poll. However, based on the way the questions are worded and framed, one might guess that they fall within the 25% who disapprove of supply management. Nonetheless, in response to the first question, 75% of respondents indicated that they approve of supply management, while only 12% noted that they disapprove.

In response to the second question (which we would argue is framed with a false premise designed to lead respondents in a certain direction), 54% still approve of supply management, while 32% disapprove.

Let’s look a little closer into the questions:

1. “Canada protects its dairy and poultry industries from foreign imports with tariffs and price supports. Do you approve or disapprove of this?”

This question is framed in a way that is misleading for anyone who took the poll. Canada put supply management in place to allow producers to receive a fair return while matching supply and demand. Under supply management, import management is a necessity, so that we can properly plan our production to fulfil domestic demand. Tariffs on protected goods are not unique to Canada, most countries have sensitive sectors they seek to protect; for example, the United States also utilizes tariffs as a form of import control for both their dairy and sugar sectors, among others.

2. “Canada’s protection of its dairy and poultry industries means Canadians pay more for milk, cheese, chicken, and eggs than Americans do. Do you approve or disapprove of trade protection for dairy and poultry?”

The implication in this question is that Canadians always pay more for supply managed products than consumers in other countries/regions. This rhetoric is patently false, for several reasons. In Canada, you only pay for supply managed goods once, when you buy them at the store. Many other jurisdictions, including the United States and Europe, heavily subsidize their agricultural sectors to the tune of billions of dollars a year. In these countries, if you pay taxes, you are paying for these products – whether you buy them, or not! In addition, a 2016 Nielsen survey recently posted by DFC on social media, shows that the retail price of milk in Canada compares well with prices across the world. For example, Canadian consumers paid an average of $1.48/L for fresh milk, compared to $1.68 in New Zealand, $1.75 in France, $1.09 in Germany, $3.08 in China, and $1.22 in the United States. The price of milk in Canada is slightly higher than some countries/regions, and significantly lower than others. Fortunately, the Canadians who responded to this poll know better than to believe these kinds of unsubstantiated assertions.

In spite of these two questions of questionable neutrality, when it comes to supply management, the people have spoken – again! This poll comes on the heels of a separate poll published earlier in May by Abacus Data which found that 92% of Canadians are happy with the range and quality of dairy products available in Canada, and 77% are satisfied with Canadian dairy policy.

While these results may come as a surprise to some, they do not come as a surprise to the many Canadian farmers who depend upon this system. As Prime Minister Trudeau noted recently, supply management “works for our farmers, it works for our agricultural industry and it works for Canadians”. It is clear that Canadians agree. On behalf of all supply managed farmers, it can’t be said enough, thank you Canada for your continued support!

 

Source: Dairy Farmers of Canada


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