Thursday, 09 February 2017 14:12

Farmers don’t always benefit

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Now Donald Trump is putting a kibosh on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, commentators are stating the conventional wisdom that Canada and Canadian agriculture depends on trade. Let us see how an economist would look at the place farmers have in all of this.

Economists notice companies involved in the food chain, from producer to consumer, can protect their share of the consumer dollar, and actually increase it, by forming monopolies. Farmers can get the same monopoly protection by forming marketing boards. This creates a problem for industry which needs a weak link in the food chain. An example was when people were lobbied so Stephen Harper disbanded the Canadian Wheat Board. We also see this when clauses are written into trade agreements which can be used to force governments to shut down other farm marketing boards. Farmers — the weak link — can then have their share of the incoming dollars from trade whittled away by industry. The result? If we hear politicians saying farmers will benefit from trade agreements, we should expect they are standing in a manure spreader.
For Canadian citizens in general, the worst part about the TPP and other trade agreements are clauses which allow industry to control governments. Around the world there are many examples where industry controls how democratically-elected governments manage their country.
One wonders about the negotiators on our side of the table. Are they stupid or what is their personal gain? More can be said, but  I do not expect the TPP or any other trade agreement will benefit farmers.
Lorne Jackson, Moose Jaw

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