And yet the Canadian ag cartels have been able to paint themselves as the stalwart defenders of Canadian product against American imports, which all right-thinking Canadians know have to be less pure and clean than Canadian product.
Meanwhile, the Ottawa Citizen's Kate Heartfield rightly invokes Olson's Logic of Collective Action in explaining the mess:
The whole piece is excellent; it rightly points to New Zealand as example of a thriving free-market agricultural sector.In fact, the only thing the parties can find to argue about in this complex and vexing area of public policy is which party supports supply-managed farmers most.
The political barriers to reform are built into the system. Almost half the dairy quota goes to Quebec, an electoral battleground. There are only 12,965 dairy farms in this country — plus fewer than 5,000 in all the other supply-managed sectors combined — and every Canadian is a food consumer. But the costs to the consumer are invisible and difficult to quantify, and the complex system that imposes those costs is not widely understood. Dairy, egg and poultry farmers, though, know all about it and they’re heavily invested in the issue — literally, since the value of the quota they hold depends on what happens to prices in the future.
“If a government takes them on, they’re in for a big fight,” says John Manley, former Liberal cabinet minister, now the president and CEO of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives. “Look at what’s happening with the wheat board. It would be 10 times more vicious.”
But Canada's problem is worse than Olson, though; it's Tullock. Even the winners aren't made better off by the system as all the rents are capitalised into the price of quota. But I still think there's a potential solution in buying them out.