I’m hearing SO many promises as the federal election date approaches. Promises for better health care, more pension money, better bank regulation and so on and so on. I’m also reading the Farm Products Marketing Act and interpreting what it promises to Ontarians. It promises to oversee the local boards, such as EFO and their activities and operations. I’m also reviewing the promises that EFO makes on their web site. Here’s a quote from there:
Our mandate is to provide consumers with a guaranteed supply of safe, high quality eggs at the most reasonable prices possible. This is accomplished through the efficient management of the production of eggs,research, product promotion and ongoing market activities.
So what happens when and if these promises are not kept? Politicians can be punished for broken promises by not electing them next election. But what about EFO and the Farm Products Marketing Act enforcers? What if one of the promises that EFO breaks involves the ‘safe, high quality egg’ supply? Can they be ‘un-elected’? Based on my research, I’m finding it difficult to determine who or what organization is responsible for the ‘safe, high quality egg’ supply – or lack thereof. The Farm Products Marketing Act seems to put that role on the Farm Products Marketing Commission but I can’t seem to get the Commission to tell me what I have to do to file a complaint. Seems like a simple question but even the Chairperson hasn’t been able to tell me. Sounds to me like there’s some accountability issues.
So if no one is accountable, what is the system doing for the consumer? Is the system really protecting the consumer or does the system protect the very lucrative revenue stream of the EFO and the very profitable revenue stream of egg producers? Is that what the supply-management agriculture system was designed to do? As I try to find answers to all of these questions, I read Andrea Mandel-Campbell’s Why Mexicans Don’t Drink Molson. Mandel-Campbell explains that “in the world of supply management, farmers are not rewarded for conquering new markets. Their payoff comes from guarding their government-ceded monopoly.” With the existence of this monopoly, there is no reason or incentive for farmers to be efficient or to make an attempt to improve their production methods. They’ve got a guaranteed market and a guaranteed return on their investment – as long as supply management remains intact. But is supply-management in the best interest of the consumer? As a retired egg producer and now a consumer, I know that the consumer is not EFO’s or the Farm Products Marketing Commission’s primary concern. Protecting their jobs, their guaranteed market and with holding as much information as possible so that no producer or consumer can determine whether their so-called mandate is being met or not. At this point, EFO’s mandate is just a bunch of words that can only be defended if the numbers and decisions were analyzed properly. What is EFO afraid of? Let me (consumers) or others (industry people) that request the information have access to the information, especially if they’re truly doing their job. Is EFO a bunch of chickens?