Unease growing in EU over CETA cheese clause

Canada’s dairy farmers say they have no comment on reports of a spat brewing over cheese allocations under the incoming trade agreement with the European Union.

Most measures under the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement are expected to take effect July 1. The agreement will allow an additional 16,000 tonnes of high-quality cheese and 1,700 tonnes of industrial cheese to enter Canada from the EU under tariff rate quotas.

Another 800 tonnes will also be available through the technical adjustment of an existing TRQ.

However, some media recently reported that 60 percent of the TRQs would be allocated to Canadian dairy producers and importers, leaving Europeans concerned that they wouldn’t fill the quota to prevent imported cheese from competing against domestic product.

Dairy Farmers of Canada spokesperson Isabelle Bouchard said the organization had nothing to say about the report.

“We are waiting for the government to announce the TRQ allocation for CETA,” she said.

That falls to International Trade Minister Francois-Phillippe Champagne. Consultations on the TRQs, including those for exporters, were held a year ago but no announcement has yet been made.

The Canadian industry is also waiting for more information about how the government will help it adjust to the new market conditions.

Last fall, Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay announced $250 million for farmers to update equipment and $100 million to help processors modernize and diversify. There is nothing available to compensate producers for lost revenue, which DFC has pegged at $116 million per year.

Dairy processors have said cheese producers could lose $230 million each year.

Contact karen.briere@producer.com

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