Since the inception of supply management in Canada during the 1970s, milk production quota has been used to regulate output and participation in the dairy industry. In recent years, milk quota values have increased dramatically, almost tripling in value since the mid-1980s. This led to the Dairy Farmers of Ontario intervening on the milk production quota exchange on two occasions: first, in November 2006 with a progressive transfer assessment and then in July 2009, replacing the former policy with a firm price ceiling – fixing the unit price of quota at $25,000. These policies represent a significant redistribution of economic benefits within the Ontario dairy community from milk producers approaching retirement and selling their quota to those remaining in the industry. The objective of this study is to first explore the reasons for the increase in production quota values; and second, to assess the welfare and distributional effects of each of the two quota policy schemes. Our results suggest that the increase in quota values were driven by basic economic factors expected to influence asset values and that the efficiency losses from intervention in the quota exchange are non-trivial. We conclude by suggesting there are several alternative policy options that could minimize efficiency losses while moderating the escalation in quota values.


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