The battle for compensation: We have won an important round

The payments will be made directly to producers based on their quota, as was the case with the initial payment. However, the payout will take place over 3 years rather than 7, i.e., $468 million (M) in 2020-2021, $469 M in 2021-2022 and $468 M in 2022-2023. This will make it easier to plan farm investments. The payments will be made before the end of each fiscal year, namely March 31. The mechanisms are already in place and the Canadian Dairy Commission (CDC) will again administer the program. This will simplify the process.

The compensation payments will help to cover a portion of the losses resulting from these Agreements. The government has kept its word and has given us the confidence to again invest and innovate on our farms. In this period of crisis, the entire economy of our regions will benefit since the compensation payments will be spent and reinvested locally. They are in addition to the $500 million that milk producers are investing to modernize their operations. It is also important to remember that our farms contribute $6.2 billion to our Gross Domestic Product and generate $1.3 billion in taxes.

So far, an announcement has not been made concerning the losses related to the Canada-United-States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA), even though the Agreement went into force last summer and the negative effects are already being felt on our market share. At the time of the government’s last announcement, Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau repeated the government’s commitment to also compensate producers for market losses resulting from CUSMA and to rapidly consult our sector in this regard. This is an encouraging first step. We offer the Minister our collaboration in rapidly launching a process to define the specifics of the compensation for CUSMA.

We continue to ask the government to respect its commitment to make no further concessions involving the dairy industry in future negotiations and that all federal political parties make the same commitment. Canada has shown that this is possible: In late November it concluded a transitional agreement with the United Kingdom without sacrificing any additional market share. Beginning in 2021, the United Kingdom no longer has access to tariff rate quotas on cheese provided for in CETA and must use those provided for under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to access the Canadian dairy market.

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Concessions coupled with compensation promises are not a suitable model to follow in trade negotiations. The government has committed to make no further concessions involving dairy products in future trade agreements; this must be the rationale in the future.

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I testified before the House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade to express our support for the transitional agreement and to ask that all the provisions of this agreement be transferred in their entirety to an eventual long-term agreement. No additional access must be granted to the Canadian dairy market, whether of cheese or any other dairy product!

Each time that the Canadian government allows access to our dairy markets, a larger number of Canadian dairy products are replaced on our store shelves by foreign products. These decisions imperil our farms and, consequently, the farm families who earn their living from the dairy sector as well as our rural communities. We must put an end to this erosion if the Canadian dairy industry is to maintain its strength and vitality. We have given enough.

Concessions coupled with compensation promises are not a suitable model to follow in trade negotiations. The government has committed to make no further concessions involving dairy products in future trade agreements; this must be the rationale in the future.

To conclude, after several months of healing wounds from the trade agreements and reacting to the crisis, it is now time to build our future. Encouraged by loyal consumers, we must promote supply management, a system that ensures local production and food security for everyone. Supported by highly efficient elected leaders and dynamic employees, I am optimistic for the coming months: we will develop our Quebec dairy industry. I am reaching out to all levels of government and asking them to be imaginative and to work with us to define a long-term vision for our industry.

 

SignatureDanielGobeil

 

 

 

Daniel Gobeil, Chairman

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