Quebec dairy farmers claim USMCA spells disaster for their industry
The Canadian dairy industry is up in arms over the new NAFTA deal now known as USMCA. On Election Day in Quebec, Philippe Couillard put his premier’s hat on, to denounce the new international trade agreement. He fears it will ultimately put an end to the family farm in Quebec, a concern shared by the province’s milk producers’ association.
“This is not a good agreement for Quebec. We are seeing a weakening of supply management system,” Quebec’s premier said, adding that his government will examine all legal options to possibly contest the agreement. “It puts in question the entire model of family-based agriculture in Quebec.”
Here’s what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had to say about the deal:
Second-generation farmer Peter Strebel’s worst fears came true when he woke up to details of the agreement on Monday morning.
“Our fear was with PTP and with CETA that last-minute concessions were made in the dairy sector,” Strebel, a dairy farmer on Montreal’s south shore, said. “We seem to be the last chip they throw in to get a deal done.”
WATCH: Maritime dairy farmer groups unhappy with NAFTA replacement
The 52-year-old is one of 5,000 milk producers in Quebec who feel cheated by the new NAFTA deal. Cutting production quotas by four per cent and opening the border to more foreign dairy products will hurt Canadian farmers and possibly consumers the most.
“BST growth hormone is legal in the U.S. where it’s illegal in Canada — we don’t want it either,” Strebel said. “If at least consumers would profit from this but I don’t think it’s gonna be the case.”
Some farmers may be forced to dump their milk surplusses, but Strebel insists he’ll sell his cows before putting his product to waste.
The head of the Quebec milk producers association warns that concessions in this latest agreement add up to a total of 13 fewer production days for his members.
“The producers don’t want to receive a compensation. The producers want to produce milk,” said Les Producteurs de lait du Québec president Bruno Letendre. “Like a singer, if you’re a singer, you don’t want money to close your mouth. You want to sing.”
WATCH: Is Canada’s supply-management system the cause of disappearing dairy farms in U.S.?
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