Election 42: Food Marketing Boards

Food marketing boards take a lot of stick these days. They work by artificially controlling supply, thus having a knock-on effect on prices. These boards usually go hand-in-hand with import restrictions, placing heavy penalties on foods imported into the country from elsewhere.

The Americans in particular are not in favor of the marketing board system. Americans see everything through the eyepiece of commerce, and see in Canada a market opportunity for their otherwise cheap food.

The thing is: food supply is not like other commodities like cars or iPhones.  The food supply, and where it comes from, is not a problem of commerce.  It is a problem of national security.

Marketing boards are defended by their benefits:

First, food providers are ensured a revenue stream that will cover costs. This means that consumers are both fully covering the costs of producing their food, and are used to paying those costs.  It also reduces the risk that food providers will go out of business.

The result of this is that food is generated within the borders of Canada. In the event of a food emergency, the supply of food is available to be nationalized, to be redirected where the national interest is -- whether that direction is to specific regions of Canada, or possibly to support our interests internationally.

Without these boards, food producers in Canada would mostly go out of business, and the remainder would probably become part of international conglomerates.  In either case, the amount of food generated within Canadian borders would be reduced, meaning that in a food emergency, Canada would be bidding against other nations for the available supply of food.

Having a domestic food supply does not protect us from failure of that domestic supply.

But if you don't have a domestic supply, you have fewer options should a global food emergency occur.

Which would you rather do: make the tough choices about who gets to eat the food you make -- or try to out-bid other nations for a supply of food?