Hundreds marched through the streets of Montreal on Sunday afternoon to show support for local farmers.
The protest, organized by the Union des producteurs agricoles du Quebec (UPA) — a professional farmers’ union — was meant to highlight the plight of the province’s agricultural producers.
UPA president Marcel Groleau said the recently negotiated U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) puts Canadian producers at a disadvantage.
“Our dairy producers will be the ones who are most affected by these negotiations,” Groleau said, adding that Canadian dairy producers stand to lose around $500 million a year under the new deal.
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Groleau also called on the government to impose the same standards for imported goods as it does for locally produced foods in order to level the playing field.
He explained that Canada has some of the strictest environmental and health standards in the world, and other countries need to meet those standards.
“There’s pesticides that we don’t use and antibiotics,” Groleau said. “If we compare to Mexico or China or other countries that don’t have those rules, it’s unfair for our production.”
Groleau said Sunday’s march was about protecting the future of Canada’s agricultural production.
“If what we live today continues to happen, it will be tougher. What will be left for the next generation?” he said.
Groleau believes change isn’t possible without first gaining a better understanding of the situation farmers face.
With the USMCA deal expected to be signed at the end of the month, Groleau said he hopes the government is listening to local agricultural producers.
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