Dairy farmers wary of potential trade deal with U.S.

Ontario dairy farmers are keeping their udders crossed their industry won’t be negatively impacted in NAFTA negotiations which may put an end to their supply management industry.

“We don’t have a plan B,” said Ralph Dietrich, chairman of the Dairy Farmers of Ontario, adding he hopes the government will stand by promises to protect dairy industry.

“We will have to take what comes. We never thought we would get out of NAFTA scot-free, but we have to minimize the effects.”

U.S. President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he was optimistic Canadian and American negotiators could each a deal on NAFTA by Friday.

( function() { pnLoadVideo( “videos”, “k8MHYPHSH6c”, “pn_video_692091”, “”, “”, {“is_mobile”:””} ); } )();

Supply management in Canada’s dairy industry co-ordinates production and controls imports as a way of setting stable prices for farmers and producers.

Canadian dairy farmers don’t rely on subsidies so that cost isn’t passed onto consumers.

A recent  Dairy Farmers of Canada poll says two in three Canadians support the supply management system during NAFTA negotiations. DFC representatives are in Washington this week to fight for their interests.

A more recent Angus Reid poll shows Canadians are split on supporting supply management if it means a new NAFTA deal with the U.S would be jeopardized.

“We aren’t the solution,” Dietrich said. “We have gone through changes in our system that has enabled the government to make some trade deals.”

( function() { pnLoadVideo( “videos”, “HLRpkBCmXbo”, “pn_video_301709”, “”, “”, {“is_mobile”:””} ); } )();

He added there are no guarantees a change in the supply management system will benefit Canadian consumers when it comes to dairy costs. Nor does Dietrich believe subsidies and reduced protection for Canadian farmers is the answer.

“When consumers buy our products, they don’t have to pay for subsidies given by the government to farmers,” Dietrich said.

“There is too much milk and the U.S. has to get its head around that,” said Dietrich, adding the volume of milk produced in New York, Wisconsin and Michigan surpasses the demand in the entire province of Ontario.

“(The U.S) wants to take their lowest quality product and export it and why wouldn’t they.”

He said when the European Union did away with the supply management system, some countries that were self-sustaining started to produce more milk for export and directly competed with U.S. farmers.

“We have a system that works and keeps farmers in business,” Dietrich said.

Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies