Canada to pay farmers for any losses under trade deal – minister

OTTAWA — Federal agriculture minister Gerry Ritz maintains that if the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal is signed this week supply managed sectors will be protected.

“Not from this government,” he responded during a scrum with reporters after the national agriculture debate Sept. 30 when asked if there was a risk to the sector as negotiations proceed in Atlanta.

“They know we have their back.”

Video of the complete debate will be available here.

The possibility of a deal drew farmers, tractors and dairy cows to Ottawa Sept. 29 to protest. A group also marched in front of the Chateau Laurier a day later while the debate including representatives from five parties occurred inside.

The Conservative government has said that if compensation is required, such as that promised through the agreement with Europe, it would be forthcoming.

“If there’s a loss on your farm, (or) on the processing side, you will be compensated,” Ritz said during the debate.

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But he wouldn’t say whether that would include both lost income and lost quota value.

“We’ll have to wait and see what the final numbers are to see what’s going to be required,” he said.

NDP agriculture critic and candidate in Niagara Centre, Malcolm Allen, said supply management would remain “whole” under a Tom Mulcair government.

He criticized the Conservatives for putting the sector on the TPP table in the first place.

A former autoworker negotiator, Allen said neither side ever puts everything on the table at the start.

“Don’t put it on the table if you don’t want to lose it,” he said during the debate.

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He also said the government should keep the opposition leaders at least in the loop on the talks. He said Mulcair has not been given any information about the TPP.

“I don’t disagree that negotiations have to be secretive at some levels, but not at the high level,” Allen said.

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau has said he would wait and see what the details are before taking a position, but agriculture critic Mark Eyking is a strong supporter of supply management.

Ritz repeated the Conservative message that negotiations will not take place in the media. Asked if he should be in Atlanta to add more weight to the discussions he quipped he is only 180 pounds.

The debate was based on seven pre-taped questions from farmers across Canada and included trade, business risk management, environment, research, farm labour, the next generation of farm operators and social license.

Ron Bonnett, president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, which sponsored the debate, said he would have liked to hear more specifics from each party.

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  • John Fefchak

    Hmmm….”Canada to pay farmers for any losses under trade deal – minister” CANADA IS US, and we’ll be footing any losses WITH our TAX dollars. That’s not much of a deal for Canadians!
    Now if those making such a deal were committed/obligated to pay …out of their own pockets $$, fair enough.

  • Chris

    Why should these sectors have income guarantees? The other Ag sectors don’t have any. We live in a free market country. The high price of quotas prevents young farmers from getting into dairy, poultry, eggs, etc.

    • DMM

      Free market? How has that worked out for the beef and pork farmers after 8 YEARS and counting of COOL?
      How has that worked out for the $billions lost by western grain farmers?
      Will the Conservatives change the legislation allowing dairy farmers the ability to compete with legalizing cheap Mexican workers, antibiotics and hormones and tetracycline and PKE and lower the standards to match the 3% protein to be called ‘milk’?
      Canadians need to realize that these other countries only want our money, NOT our products.

      • joealbertan

        If the markets were actually free these problems would not exist.

    • ed

      If you give up the supply management price guarantees and import of these goods restrictions, it would be hoped that our young savvy farmers would be smart enough not to invest in or get involved in the new free for all, rock bottom price regime that will follow. It will be a long desolate farming career if they do Chris, or a short one!

  • joealbertan

    The CWB became a private business and then THEY sold it themselves, it was approved by the GOC. …
    Marketing boards completely eliminate free enterprize,