Dairy farmer in Kingston region upset with new USMCA deal

Dairy farmer in South Frontenac County reacts to trade deal
A local dairy farmer says the concessions made in the USMCA deal could affect how farmers move forward.

A dairy farmer working in South Frontenac County says the concessions made with the recent USMCA deal will hurt the industry.

Seventy-five-year-old Ron Sleeth has been working in the dairy industry for several decades, and comes from a long line of dairy farmers in the family. He says the changes will have a huge impact on how people who work in the competitive industry can move forward.

“There’s going to be a significant shift in how many dairy farmers we have here in Canada,” Sleeth says.

It was late Sunday night that Canada and U.S. came to an agreement in the NAFTA trade negotiations. The new deal that was renamed the USMCA standing for United States Mexico Canada Agreement, had several provisions that will affect farmers.

READ MORE: Justin Trudeau, Chrystia Freeland call new NAFTA deal ‘a victory’ but warn challenges remain

One of the provisions will allow 3.5 per cent more American dairy products into the market. Although it seems like a small amount, Sleeth who runs Eilevale Farms, a business that has been in South Frontenac since the 1980’s — says it may cause a bigger problem.

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“It actually works out to at least 10 per cent of our market gone, with the other two trade agreements that have been signed by Canada.”

Letting more American dairy products flood the Canadian market could also affect the consumer as well. Sleeth says with different regulations on milk down south, it will mean a different quality of milk coming across the border.

READ MORE: Canadian dairy farmers slam new trade agreement, say it will have ‘dramatic impact’

“There will be more product coming into Canada that doesn’t have anywhere close to the standards that we have for our milk here.”

There are close to 40 dairy farms in the South Frontenac region, just a small portion of the more-than-3,600 across the province. Sleeth worries that number will shrink as the American competition builds in the country.

“Fewer and fewer farmers, but certainly some of the older people will want to sell out that don’t have the next generation coming on.”