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Dairy farmers protest cost of CETA & TPP on Parliament Hill

Photo by Brent Patterson

Dairy farmers from Ontario and Quebec drove to Parliament Hill this morning with their tractors to raise concerns about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

I went to today’s protest to learn more about why they were there.

Dairy farmers say that the combined impact of the TPP and CETA will cost them between $282 million and $357 million in annual revenue.

CBC reports, “Quebec and Ontario dairy farmers are returning to Parliament Hill with their tractors and cows this morning, snarling Ottawa traffic in another rally demanding stricter controls on cross-border trade and compensation for international agreements they say have left them at a disadvantage. About 2,000 people from Quebec and 1,000 from eastern Ontario are on the way to the Hill, according to Dairy Farmers Canada.”

The article adds, “The former Conservative government negotiated a $4.3-billion deal with Canadian farm groups before the TPP was announced last October but it was not approved by the Treasury Board before the election that brought in a new Liberal government. The compensation package was meant to mitigate not just the TPP, but also CETA.”

In April CBC reported, “The new Liberal government’s spending estimates and first budget don’t include even a portion of the previous pledge. …The compensation package announced last October wasn’t only for the TPP. The measures also intended to mitigate potential losses from CETA. [While the government is still studying the TPP, they] are keen on CETA, saying they hope the deal will be ratified later this year — which is why farmers’ eyebrows shot up when last month’s budget offered nothing.”

Speakers on Parliament Hill today highlighted the need for supply management.

In short, in the 1970s a system of supply management came into effect in Canada to regulate the supply of milk, poultry and eggs. The national system, managed by the Canadian Dairy Commission, means that imports of these goods are limited in areas where domestic products can meet demand. The system means consistent prices for both producers and consumers. The price the farmer receives is set by provincial bodies, such as the Dairy Farmers of Ontario, taking into account the Canadian Dairy Commission’s study of production costs.

Under CETA, Canada will more than double the amount of European access into the Canadian cheese sector to around 30,000 tonnes annually, while under the TPP Canada would give up 3.25 per cent (some say closer to 4 per cent) of its dairy market over five years to allow for imports from TPP countries, notably the United States.

Farmers are concerned this will mean lost income and the slow erosion of supply management.

To learn about our campaign to stop CETA and the TPP, please click here.