A procession of tractors travelled from the UPA’s offices to the Marriott Château Champlain Hotel in Montreal, where the meeting of Canadian and provincial premiers was being held. The tractor procession was followed by a press conference with Marcel Groleau, UPA President, Bruno Letendre, Chair of Les Producteurs de lait du Québec, and Pierre Lampron, President of Dairy Farmers of Canada. They were accompanied by the 14 regional chairs of Les Producteurs de lait du Québec. The dairy sector representatives hoped to take advantage of this meeting to remind Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, of his promise to compensate milk producers for the losses caused in their sector by the recent trade agreements.
“During the press conference on October 1 announcing the conclusion of the United States, Mexico and Canada Agreement (USMCA), Minister Chrystia Freeland clearly promised to provide milk producers with full and fair compensation. Now that the agreement is signed and will be submitted to parliament for final ratification, we demand that Trudeau’s government keep its promise by setting up a compensation program in consultation with producer representatives that is accessible to all,” explained UPA President Marcel Groleau.
This promise was repeated in a Bloc Québécois motion that was unanimously adopted in the House of Commons. The motion demands that “the House call on the government to implement a program that provides financial compensation to egg, poultry and dairy farmers for all the losses they sustain due to the breaches to the supply management system in CETA, the CPTPP and the USMCA, and that it do so before asking parliamentarians to vote on the USMCA.” It should be noted that the Canadian government has still not compensated producers for the losses resulting from CETA, which has been in effect since September 2017, and those from the CPTPP, which will come into force on December 30.
Bruno Letendre, Chair of Les Producteurs de lait du Québec, sent Quebec’s Premier the following message: “Milk producers have borne the brunt of the last three trade agreements that have been signed. All three times, the federal government has promised to compensate producers, and to date, it has still not kept its promises. We ask that the Quebec government use all political and legal recourses at its disposal to make sure that the measures announced by the federal government meet the expectations of producers, and we ask that Premier Legault share this message with Prime Minister Trudeau during the meeting.”
“We are asking the provincial premiers to get a commitment from the federal government that it will stop using the Canadian dairy industry as a bargaining chip in trade agreements and stop making concessions in the dairy sector,” concluded Mr. Letendre.
Canada has now signed three trade agreements that have hurt Canadian milk producers: the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with the European Union in October 2013, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) in January 2018 and the USMCA just recently. In total, Canada has conceded the equivalent of 8.4% of Canadian dairy production and processing. Strictly in terms of market access, the concessions made for these three agreements represent lost milk sales in the amount of $450 million per year, i.e. approximately $41,000 per farm. In addition to these losses, there may still be other annual losses, ranging between $50 and $350 million, caused by the export surcharge that affects the volume of skim milk powder we can export.
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