Liberals agree to dairy compensation

Dairy Farmers of Canada say they are relieved the Liberal government will compensate them for losses when more European products are allowed to enter Canada under a free trade deal.

The government had not agreed to honour an Oct. 5 commitment by the previous Conservative government to mitigate for losses under both the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with Europe and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, causing industry-wide concern.

Agriculture minister Lawrence MacAulay and international trade minister Chrystia Freeland issued a statement May 2 saying they would meet with the industry within 30 days to find out how it wants to be compensated for CETA alone. It is expected to take effect in 2017.

CETA, when ratified, would allow an additional 17,700 tonnes of European cheese into Canada. DFC has estimated that would cause losses of between $110 and $150 million per year in revenue.

“An appropriate mitigation package is necessary for the Canadian dairy industry,” the ministers’ statement said. “Our conversations will address, among other issues, transition support for producers and processors, as well as proposed program and investment options.”

The previous Conservative government had announced a $4.3-billion package intended to compensate supply-managed farmers for both CETA and TPP.

Wally Smith, DFC president, said in a posting on the association website that dairy farmers welcome the opportunity to “make adjustments to the package that was announced on Oct. 5.”

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He said the package should include a funding program to attract new investments and increase processing capacity.

“Processors in Canada need investments in order to help increase their capacity to compete in the post-CETA market,” he said. “The time to make those investments is before the implementation of the deal.”

He also said the negotiations should result in a model that could be used for TPP compensation.

The government has said ratifying CETA is a priority; TPP ratification is less certain.

Contact karen.briere@producer.com

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