Some Vancouver Island dairy farmers are saying Prime Minister Justin Trudeau failed the Canadian dairy sector when he signed the USMCA on Nov. 30.
Clarke Gourlay, dairy farmer and co-owner of Morningstar Farm in Parksville, says his farm will see a 20 per cent decrease in growth income as a result of the recently signed US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement (USMCA).
According to the Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC), the federal government has gone beyond the original concessions made when the USMCA was announced, and signed a deal granting the United States oversight in the administration of the Canadian dairy system.
“Granting additional market access of 3.9 per cent to our domestic dairy market, eliminating competitive dairy classes, and extraordinary measures to limit our ability to export dairy products to any country in the world will have a dramatic impact on investments by the whole sector,” states a press release from the DFC.
Pierre Lampron, president of DFC, said the group fails to see how this deal can be good for dairy farmers, their families and the 221,000 people emplyed in the dairy industry.
“Our government is not only contributing to the dismantling of our dairy model in Canada, it is giving up our sovereign right to make our own policies and that should be of concern to all Canadians,” Lampron said in the release.
Once recent trade deals – including CETA, CPTPP and USMCA – come into effect, total dairy imports will make up close to 20 per cent of the Canadian dairy market.
The DFC, say the agreement also means that locally produced milk from Canadian dairy farms is being pushed off the shelves to make way for imported products from the US.
Gourlay said he believes trudeau is selling out Canadian dairy farmers and using them as a “pawn”.
“Over the last three years [Trudeau] and the previous government have given up approximately 20 per cent of the dairy industry,” Gourlay said.
Gourlay said his farm owns about 50 cows for milking, but once the trade agreement comes into effect, that number will decrease to 40.
“And 20 per cent less growth income…I mean 20 per cent is a big hit,” he said.
Gourlay said the new agreement will definitely effect his business.
“We’re disappointed, I would say but we will carry on,” Gourlay said. “For the cheese part of our business (Little Qualicum Cheeseworks), we can buy milk from other farms if we have to. It decreases efficiencies all the way around.”