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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Supply management, community food systems and the dairy industry in the Fraser Valley, British Columbia Duncan, Judith A.

Abstract

It has become increasingly obvious that a growing number of ecologically and socially destructive trends are linked to the global integration and commodification of agriculture systems and food. This thesis investigates the connections between ecological, and socio-economic, sustainability and Canada's supply management system. Supply management is a regulatory framework that, among other objectives, targets price and income stabilization for agricultural producers. Although supply management was not developed to promote sustainable development, it may be possible to use this institution to enhance environmental and social health. This thesis explores this possibility. Specifically I explore - through a Grounded Theory methodological approach involving qualitative in-depth interviews; and informal interviews - the ecological and socio-economic costs and benefits of supply management in the dairy industry in the Fraser Valley, British Columbia. Through this research, I found that supply management in the dairy industry has a greater potential to support the local economy and positively influence socio-economic equity than nonsupply managed regions such as the dairy industry in the western United States. I also discovered that these non-supply managed regions seem to experience a greater degree of surface and ground water contamination from dairy operations. This suggests that price instability may be a barrier to environmental stewardship; or, that income stabilization accorded by supply management has encouraged ecological sustainability. My analysis also reveals that the loss of supply management - in the current global trading environment - has the potential to result in a loss of domestic control over environmental health regulations. In conclusion, I suggest that the deregulation of supply management would quite likely represent a transfer of power from the local dairy farmer to international, and uncontrollable, forces. Consequently, any further policy adjustments toward deregulation should not be made until careful investigation of the ecological and socio-economic cost and benefits are evaluated on a qualitative level. I recommend that further research is necessary to clarify these indirect and direct connections between sustainability and supply management, and that coalitions between Community Food System advocates and supply management supporters would benefit both of these groups and the public at large.

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