Tuesday, March 28, 2006

An end to marketing boards...please

There is a chicken glut that has sent prices down 50% over the past year. But that news seems foreign to my Canadian ears. And it is. The prices the USDA publishes for poultry prices are a quite a bit different from the prices posted north of the border. Indeed, the wholesale price of skinless/boneless chicken in Canada is about CDN $14/kg (CDN $6.37/lb) - nothing close to the CDN $2.58/kg (CDN $1.17/lb) posted in the United States. If this is just one example of the consumer cost of agricultural marketing boards, then it is time Canadians wake up and push for policy change.

Too often the interests of consumers are ceremoniously tossed to the wayside, all in the ill-advised defence of producers. The livelihoods of certain sectors of our population depend on the protectionism that brings forth all manner of consumer taxes. This is indisputable. But it is imperative that policy makers understand the crippling effect of protectionism. Far better to deal with global trade head-on by dismantling protectionist institutions like marketing boards and help redirect producing assets toward industries with some level of comparative advantage. The economic rewards for the nation would be substantial. My family's annual chicken savings alone could be over $1,000 at the current prices. That is the kind of tax cut Canadians could use.

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