Dairy Quotas Would Help Our Family Farms

NFFCPress Room

Originally posted January 23, 2022, as a letter to the editor, Wall Street Journal:

Canada’s supply-management system provides a positive example

A recent ruling under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement fails to address the problems confronting dairy farmers in any meaningful way (“U.S. Wins Ruling on Canada Dairy Tariffs,” U.S. News, Jan. 5). On the contrary, it dismisses the positive example of Canada’s dairy supply- management program, which has stabilized the supply of milk, provided protective subsidies to small farmers, ensured most of the dairy production is consumed domestically and offered fairer prices to farmers and consumers.

Canada’s quota system has enabled dairy farmers to invest in more sustainable, climate-friendly farming practices. Their average dairy herd size is 97 cows, allowing more opportunities for pasture grazing and soil carbon sequestration. This combination of minimal emissions and maximum soil carbon retention constitutes one of the most positive versions of dairy production.

The centerpiece of the U.S. dairy crisis, on the other hand, is chronic low prices for family-scale dairies, consolidation and overproduction of milk. Policies pushed by dairy lobbyists have pressured farmers to continually increase herd size, boost production and seek ever- expanding export markets, driving family-scale dairy farmers out of business.

The administration and leaders in Congress have expressed their intention to promote fair competition and support rural communities. To seriously address the dairy crisis, they must stop pretending that exporting our way out of the crisis will benefit family-scale farmers, the environment and all those who rely on dairy.

Niaz Dorry
National Family Farm Coalition