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Why trade matters to egg farmers


By now you are well versed in the social phenomenon of taking self-photos, or selfies. You may have even heard of the farmer selfie trend tagged felfie. Now, consider turning the camera on yourself to help promote a stable and sustainable egg industry by taking part in the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) trade stories selfies campaign.

The upcoming WTO’s Public Forum has taken Why trade matters to everyone as its theme. This begs the question: why does international trade matter to Canada’s egg industry?

In fact, our trade story is rather unique. Canadian egg farmers operate under a domestic policy framework called supply management. Through the system of supply management, our farmers agree to follow a set of rules that help ensure a consistent supply of fresh, and high-quality eggs from Canadian farms, and as a result also ensures that farmers receive a fair return for their efforts.

To work efficiently and effectively supply management relies on three pillars: import controls, production planning and producer pricing. Each of these pillars are equally important in ensuring that the system operates smoothly.

Egg Farmers of Canada works closely with our supply managed partners to monitor trade negotiations, and represent the interests of our farmers in the context of a variety of international activities, including the WTO negotiations.

Canada has successfully negotiated many trade agreements while maintaining supply management. And, as our government continues to negotiate trade agreements we are confident that they will continue to ensure the pillars of supply management remain intact.

Further, the World Farmers’ Organization’s new policy on trade also supported supply management:  

“Trade rules should permit domestic policy measures which promote stability of supplies such as safety nets, orderly marketing and supply management, as well as pre-defined safeguard measures to address sudden surges of imports.”

This means the system of supply management is recognized by the world’s farming community—including farmers from both developing and developed countries as well as export oriented and domestic market focused countries—as a policy measure that promotes stability for the domestic market. It is an important achievement.

Essentially, we see the stability supply management provides at home as something that makes it less risky for our agricultural colleagues with export potential to pursue opportunities in international markets.

Now, some believe that supply management blocks import. This is simply not the case. Canada is following the rules of the Uruguay Round and imports five percent of our domestic consumption of eggs each year. This is not the case for all WTO members. For example, the European Union imports less than one percent of its domestic consumption for pork.

To keep imports predictable, a form of import control known as tariff rate quotas (TRQs) are used. Since our farmers need to know the level of imported eggs to plan egg production to meet Canadians’ needs without creating a surplus, the TRQs limits the imports of eggs into Canada to the volume agreed to.

Lastly, another important element to our industry’s trade story is local product.

Consumers increasingly want to know the story behind their food. When asked in a recent survey, 95 percent of Canadian consumers say it’s important that their eggs come from Canada.

Our farmers work hard every day to produce fresh, local eggs that meet the highest standards of food quality and safety to satisfy the demand of Canadians. By upholding supply management, we are able to ensure that the Canadian market demand for eggs is met by Canadian farmers.

And so, if you are one of these farmers or a Canadian who loves locally produced eggs, why not consider using your next selfie to share your trade story and support Canada’s egg industry!

For information on how to submit your trade story and photo visit the WTO website.

Judi Bundrock Director, International Trade Policy