A pandemic, an election and supply management

  • National Newswatch

Sixteen months into this pandemic, we can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel. Our double-vaxxed summer has materialized, businesses are re-opening, economic re-investment has begun, and we can all travel again soon. As we get closer to a full return to normal, and as our federal politicians seek our votes, we must not forget the pandemic lessons learned.

One of the biggest lessons that the COVID-19 crisis taught us is that there is no place like home—especially when it comes to procuring essential goods. From the very beginning, Canadians have seen how important it is to have domestic supply chains at the ready for necessities such as surgical gloves, masks, vaccinations, and other essential medical gear. We also saw everyday examples of what happens when supply chains break down, whether it was hunting for a bag of flour, a roll of toilet paper or trying to afford a 2x4 for a home renovation project. All Canadians saw how crucial it is to have strong domestic supply chains and the importance of having local, Canadian producers who can meet our needs.

While some may have scoured shelves for that elusive roll of toilet paper, Canadians could nearly always find affordable, fresh Canadian eggs in our local grocery store. Throughout the pandemic, our system of supply management withstood the pressures of this global pandemic and continued to allow our farmers to provide a stable, domestic food supply for Canadians, while at the same time delivering economic stability for the sector, rural economies as well as farmers and their families.

We have known for a long-time that supply management offers many benefits for consumers, but in this moment of crisis, our supply-managed sectors demonstrated that we can manage food production in a crisis like no other. Egg farmers across Canada produced a steady, homegrown supply of eggs, which proved to be even more crucial when trade was disrupted, borders closed, and demand for Canadian products was at an all-time high. Whether it was increased household demand at the grocery stores or decreased demand from shut down restaurants, they adjusted to quickly changing conditions. This led to eggs being eaten rather than being destroyed and it was our Canadian system of supply management that helped make that happen.

The resilience we have built into the Canadian egg farming industry underscores the importance of continued investment in this critical agricultural sector. As our political leaders make their way across the country this summer, they will be talking about initiatives and programs to reopen and build resilience into the Canadian economy and recover from the pandemic. Egg farming and our supply managed food sectors must continue to be a part of that solution. For farmers to continue to invest in this sustainable and innovative sector, they must be profitable and continue to see a future in the sector. Supply management provides the horizon egg farmers need to reinvest in their operations and to support research and innovation that advances the entire sector and keeps affordable, healthy, Canadian eggs on the tables of Canadian families.

As we look towards a hopeful, post-pandemic period, we believe that the experience of egg farmers across Canada and the lessons that this crisis has taught us about supply management should not be forgotten. As we build back a better, greener and more resilient economy, our political leaders must heed the lessons from these difficult times.  There truly is no place like home and supply management is a prime example of what makes Canada so great.

Roger Pelissero is a 3rd generation egg farmer from St. Ann's, Ontario who proudly operates an egg farm with his son Jacob. He is also the Chair of Egg Farmers of Canada.