“Look at us,” [Agriculture Economist] Larry Martin suggests, “and look at New Zealand, sitting out there in the middle of the ocean, not close to anything.” In the world of food, New Zealand is a “superpower.” And yet, thanks to daring reforms in the 1980s, New Zealand’s farmers owe almost none of their income to government support. “You think, ‘if we could do even half of what they have done wouldn’t we be in great shape?’”I'd noted before just how much bigger New Zealand is than Canada in dairy exports:
Good for us. Good for the world. If only the politicians would talk about it.
For most things, if you want to get a ballpark comparison from NZ to Canada, New Zealand is about order of magnitude smaller. Not on dairy though. 2007 dairy exports for New Zealand: $6.3 billion (about $4.5 billion Cdn). On that one, we're more than an order of magnitude bigger than Canada [at $255 million Cdn], or two orders of magnitude bigger than you'd expect given everything else about the two countries.How to get out of the mess? I'd suggested paying the dairy farmers off. But New Zealand liberalized without that kind of compensation. Instead, and I hope Seamus can help me out on the timing on this one, I think the farmers received other forms of liberalization as compensation, including freeing up the ports from pretty heavy union control.
As much as western grain farmers might rejoice were Canada's newish majority Conservative government to put in place the kind of legislation* that would break the Longshore and Warehouse Union, I doubt it would do much for the Quebec and Ontario dairy farmers who are the ones that really need to be bought out.
*Here's an excellent model; here's a perhaps less ambitious but still reasonable alternative.