Opinion Letter: The true price of giving-in to Trump’s ultimatum in dairy

Letters to the Editor

OTTAWA – LETTERS – Canadian dairy farmers woke up Monday to realize that their worst nightmare had become a crushing reality.  Despite multiple assurances to the contrary, the Trudeau government sacrificed them once again at the altar of flawed trade negotiations.  Faced with an American administration that prefers to dump their problem on our doorstep rather than fix it itself, the Trudeau government has failed to stand up for Canada’s family-owned dairy farms and homegrown dairy.  Even worse, this deal will allow Americans to dictate our dairy policies.

It is ironic that the U.S. is often held up as an example of the ideal free-market because there is nothing free about the global market for dairy.  First, the American administration insisted that Canada’s ability to export dairy be constrained to a minimum so that Canada would not compete on world markets. Second, those who focus on price need to realize that the American consumer actually pays twice for their dairy – once through taxpayer-funded subsidies and then again at the checkout counter.

By giving-in to the demands of the Trump administration, the Trudeau government is opening the door to giant industrial farms and will allow the US dairy model to take hold here at home. Canadians do not want to fund milk production through their taxes.  Canadians do not want family farms to give way to industrial farms with tens of thousands of cows.

The dairy industry in Canada has been repeatedly used as a bargaining chip for our government’s trade aspirations. How much more of their livelihood will Canadian dairy farmers be asked to give up? The combined access given under the EU trade agreement and with the transpacific countries alone already equated to $250 million dollars annually in lost milk production here at home, which ultimately benefits dairy industries in other countries.  The impact of this new deal is in addition to the previous cuts made to the Canadian market.

Make no mistake, our dairy farmers aren’t the only one to pay the price for these deals. Some 220,000 Canadian families depend on dairy for their livelihood; these include people in dairy processing plants, equipment dealers, feed manufacturers, veterinarians, truck drivers, and a host of connected industries.

The cumulative effect of these trade deals leads to the erosion of a secure and quality domestic food supply for Canadian families. Should this not be a priority for our government? How can the Trudeau government live up to its commitment towards maintaining a robust Canadian dairy industry, while conceding significant quantities of dairy production to the United States?  Will our government be prepared to concede more market to the UK as it will come knocking on our door for access to our dairy market following Brexit? Sadly we just got our answer.

Pierre Lampron
Dairy Farmers of Canada

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