Canadian Pizza Magazine

Features Business and Operations Finance
From the Editor’s Desk: January/February 2006

Sleight of hand


March 25, 2008
By Cam Wood

Topics

Over the past few months, readers of Canadian Pizza have noticed that
we are establishing the national pizza team in partnership with coach
and team owner Roberto Vergalito.

Sleight of hand

Over the past few months, readers of Canadian Pizza have noticed that we are establishing the national pizza team in partnership with coach and team owner Roberto Vergalito.

This month, we are proud to announce we have found the best of the best.

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They don’t work in the pizza industry, and we can’t even vouch that they consume pizza. But given their deft ability at sleight of hand, we’re confident they’ll become an international sensation.

Who could possibly be so ‘udderly’ amazing? The Canadian Dairy Commission, of course.

In December, the CDC made the annual announcement on support prices for butter and skim milk powder. The announcement was that the support price for SMP would increase 2.6 per cent over last year. The support price for butterfat would remain unchanged.

Or would it?

In the official announcement of the support prices, the CDC states: “Last year’s support prices contained an add-on to compensate for the financial impacts of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). The butter and skim milk powder support prices effective February 1, 2006 will no longer provide such compensation.”

That’s it. No mention of whether or not the BSE component (equivalent to 2.6 per cent, out of the 7.8 per cent hike in 2005) was removed before the current price was established.

This year, the CDC claims, the industry shouldn’t see an increase from them. Their stance is that the provincial marketing boards will be the agencies who pass along any price increase to cheese producers.

But, it took several questions from Canadian Pizza to finally get the CDC to clearly state the BSE add-on, a measure sold in 2005 as a temporary increase which would be reviewed prior to the setting of prices for 2006, was in fact absorbed into the market price and passed along as part of the CDC’s commitment to pay off “efficient” farmers.

Now there’s a reason why we’re journalists. If we were mathematicians, we would be doing something more lucrative, like working for a Liberal-friendly ad agency in Montreal. But even we could see that in this effort to meet their profitability agreement with dairy producers, the CDC has passed along a hidden 2.6 per cent increase across the board. By failing to remove the BSE add-on – or admit upfront they were keeping it in place – before adjusting the support prices, the CDC has missed the opportunity to gain any semblance of credibility.

Without an official review of the BSE add-on, or even acknowledging they continue to operate in contravention of the CDC Act – which calls for a mandatory consultation committee – the commission is clearly out of control.

What we found, here at the magazine and as Canadian Pizza Team members, is a group of bureaucrats that can stretch it more than anyone else, be faster at defending their actions than a kid caught with their hand in the candy jar, and toss up numbers in the air like a juggling acrobat. Surely any three people who can do this in such a dazzling fashion that we’re left in disbelief at the spectacle we’ve just witnessed, qualify to stand before a crowd of pizzeria operators and be judged.•


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