Quebec milk producers are still waiting to be compensated for losses linked to CUSMA, which came into force last July
At the Annual General Meeting (AGM), which was held virtually this year, Daniel Gobeil, Chair of Les Producteurs de lait du Québec (PLQ), reminded those in attendance that despite all of the government’s promises, producers were still waiting for an announcement about the compensation that will be paid for market losses linked to the Canada–United States–Mexico Agreement (CUSMA): “In addition to the market concessions that affect our production level on farms and our revenue, the 35,000-tonne ceiling on exports of milk protein concentrates and skim milk powder is a serious challenge for us!”
To fulfill this requirement negotiated by Canada, the dairy industry is working to reduce the quantities of solids non-fat produced on farms, increase processing capacity and develop new opportunities. “This will require major investments. We will need the government’s support,” said Daniel Gobeil.
He explained that producers were satisfied with the announced amounts of compensation for the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) last fall, but that all breaches in our supply management model need to be compensated. Mr. Gobeil reminded Ottawa of the PLQ’s offer to work together on solving this issue as quickly as possible.
The Chair also asked for support from all political parties, so that no further concessions would be made in future trade negotiations. “Every time the Canadian government concedes access to dairy markets, a larger number of Canadian dairy products are replaced by foreign products on our store shelves. These types of decisions put our farms in jeopardy. They impact producers’ families, the people who earn their living from the dairy sector, and our rural communities. We need to put an end to this erosion if we want the Canadian dairy industry to remain vigorous and dynamic. We have given enough.”
Mr. Gobeil added that making concessions and then promising compensation for them is not an ideal approach when it comes to trade negotiations. “Other trade agreements will certainly be negotiated in the coming years. It is important to keep our supply management system and our markets intact without additional breaches,” he added. In fact, at the end of November, Canada showed that it was capable of concluding a tentative trade agreement with the United Kingdom without sacrificing any additional market segments.
In March, the House of Commons approved the committee consideration of Bill C-216, which aims to prevent breaches in the supply management system in future trade agreement negotiations: “Even though it still has to be passed after a third reading, this is a very important moment for the defense of our system!” stated Mr. Gobeil. He also mentioned the renewed support from Quebec’s National Assembly, which passed a motion demanding that the Canadian government protect the entire supply management model in future international agreements. “The government promised to make no further concessions on dairy products; this must become the norm in the future,” explained Mr. Gobeil.
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