Reps spoke about industry compensation in relation to different trade agreements
By Diego Flammini
The federal government should help the Canadian dairy sector adapt to new trade agreements, industry reps say.
Market concessions made during CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership), CETA (Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement) and USMCA (United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement) negotiations have put the national dairy industry at a disadvantage.
Canada will lose 8.4 per cent of its domestic market share and $450 million in annual revenue to foreign dairy products because of these trade deals, said David Wiens, vice-president of Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC).
Combined with pre-existing imports under the World Trade Organization, about 18 per cent of Canada’s dairy market will be filled by foreign products by 2024, he added.
“These agreements will inhibit not only the sector’s ability to grow but also to maintain current market share,” he told the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry on Tuesday. “This is eroding dairy farmers’ confidence in the future of our sector, particularly for our young farmers and lenders who have invested in assuming market growth.”
Ottawa should provide farmers with proper compensation to make up for this market loss, industry reps say.
Dairy Farmers of Canada outlined how the government should support the sector.
“Any compensation for agricultural losses must be through direct payments to producers,” Pierre Lampron, DFC president, told the ag committee. “These payments need to be dispersed in the first six years of the trade agreements’ implementation.”
The government should give Canada Border Services Agency and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency tools to apply regulations and standards to dairy product imports. And the establishment of a new ag working group to study government and trade measures would help the industry, Lampron added.
Canada’s federal ag minister agrees that dairy farmers must be taken care of once these trade deals come into effect.
The U.S. will receive access to almost 4 per cent of Canada’s dairy market once the USMCA is signed into law.
Helping Canada’s supply managed industries thrive will be on the federal government’s agenda, said Lawrence MacAulay, Canada’s ag minister
“There’s an expected increase in dairy consumption this year in the country and we want for that to continue,” he told reporters during a Friday conference call. “We will make sure that the supply management sector in the dairy and other areas will continue to expand and prosper in our country.”