Dairy farmers remind government of compensation promise

OTTAWA – Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) is reminding the federal government that while the effects of three successive trade agreements are being felt on farms, farmers are still waiting for the compensation they were promised.

The organization says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Bibeau have all reiterated the need to compensate dairy farmers for recent trade deals, which they say transfer some domestic milk production to dairy farmers in other countries who will supply the milk for dairy products making their way back to Canadian grocery stores. The DFC states the commitment was repeated again as recently as Sept. 23 in the Speech from the Throne, when the government noted that “Farmers keep our families fed, and we will continue to help them succeed and grow.”

“By 2024, as a result of trade concessions, some 18% of our domestic milk production will be outsourced to dairy farmers in other countries at a time when Canadians are more aware than ever of the importance of ensuring our own food security,” said Dairy Farmers of Canada president Pierre Lampron. “By not following through on its commitment, the government is undermining its own dairy sector which seems counterintuitive.”

The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) came into force in 2017, and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) came into force in 2018.

The commitments from government date back to 2018, and in the case of CETA and CPTPP, funding was announced in the 2019 budget. Right before the 2019 election, the government announced a first installment on the $1.75 billion in compensation for these two agreements, but since then there have been no developments says the DFC.

“The government went on to ratify a third trade agreement harming its domestic dairy industry – the Canada-U.S.-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) – and no details have been shared as to the amount or the timelines for compensation for that agreement,” DFC officials cite in an Oct. 20 press release.

“When a dairy farmer makes a commitment, his or her word is gold,” said Lampron. “We hold our federal government to the same standard – a promise made should be a promise kept.”

DFC is calling on the government to immediately announce the payment schedule and related amounts for the balance of compensation owed for CETA and the CPTPP, and announce a clear timeline and level of compensation in fulfilment of its commitment on CUSMA, to be granted in the form of direct payments. – CNW