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Supply management keeps dairy industry strong

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Re: Hall Findlay challenges orthodoxy (June 26). As the son of a dairy farmer, I think it's important Canadians know about some of the benefits of supply management:

-- It requires dairy farmers to pay for the right to produce and ship milk. The national and provincial dairy boards work together to maintain a balance between the needs of the market and the supply from the farmers.

-- It helps dairy farmers stay strong financially, making it easier to survive weather anomalies like floods and droughts. This saves money for the average Canadian taxpayer, because dairy farmers don't typically get included in the financial support that the governments pay out when a major weather disaster hits our province.

-- The National Dairy Board maintains highly consistent standards for the quality of its products. This is extremely important for all consumers. Everyone can expect their milk to be free of BST, antibiotics and harmful bacteria. Therefore, they can feel confident that a litre of milk in Manitoba will be the same as in Newfoundland.

-- The system helps family farms to survive. It made financial sense for my brother to start buying into our family's dairy farm. This is not the case for most family farms. The younger generation can't afford to buy a farm, in part because there isn't enough profit in areas like grain and beef for the banks to give out the necessary loans. This is part of the reason why the average age of a farmer is somewhere in the 60s.

-- Small towns in Manitoba have a difficult time surviving without financially stable farms. Farmers can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on the supplies they need to maintain their operations in the surrounding communities. Supply management helps to make sure farmers can cover their operational costs; this ensures the bills will be paid.

JESSIE HARP

Selkirk

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 7, 2012 A15

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