Minister MacAulay hosts NAFTA agricultural roundtable
The government restated its defense of supply management
By Diego Flammini
Representatives from different agricultural groups participated in a NAFTA roundtable discussion with Canadian Minister of Agriculture Lawrence MacAulay.
The discussions, which included members of the beef, pork, grains and dairy industry, focused on how Canadian agriculture can benefit from a modernized NAFTA and how to make North America an even stronger agricultural market.
But one thing is for certain, and that’s the government’s continued defense of Canada’s supply-managed dairy sector, according to the ag minister.
“I’ve indicated many many times that we feel (supply management is) a model for the world and we’re going to protect it,” Minister MacAulay told The Canadian Press on Sept. 26. “There are things to iron out and hopefully it’ll iron out in a very positive way.”
Canada’s dairy industry wasn’t part of the original NAFTA agreement in 1994. But supply management has been questioned in the recent months, including U.S. President Donald Trump calling supply management “unfair” during a trip to Wisconsin this past April.
And Canadian dairy groups would like to see NAFTA modernized without supply management as a negotiating tool.
“If the government can make a good case as to why (supply management) should be (negotiable), then we need to ensure that any concessions to the sector, to the dairy market in Canada, is met with equal net benefit to the sector,” Jacques Lefebvre, president and CEO of the Dairy Processors Association of Canada, who attended the discussions with MacAulay, told The Canadian Press.
And recently, some U.S. farm groups have come around to the possibility of installing a supply-management system in their own country.
Even farmers in Wisconsin, one of America’s largest dairy-producing states and where Grassland Dairy, a large dairy processor began refusing milk intake from local producers because of Canada’s dairy rules, are open to the idea of supply management.
“Canada’s supply management program might not be perfect, but it certainly is doing a good enough job to make sure that those farmers, especially on the dairy side in Canada, can continue to stay in business and hand that farm on to the next generation,” Darin Von Ruden, head of the Wisconsin Farmers Union, told the Canadian Press on August 18.