News of a new trade deal with the United States and Mexico has stunned those in Saskatchewan’s dairy industry.
Peter Brown, general manager with SaskMilk says that despite reassurances from the federal government that dairy interests would be protected under the new trade deal, the terms of the new agreement say otherwise. While those in the province’s dairy industry are still awaiting more details on the new agreement, Brown said there are already concerns around market access, the industry’s ingredient strategy, and limits on exports of products such as baby formula and skim milk powder.
“It’s hitting us in a number of ways and it’s hitting us quite hard, particularly when it comes after we’ve given concessions through the CETA agreement and then again through CPTPP,” Brown told paNOW. “So, the industry will feel this impact greatly.”
Details of the new agreement are still trickling out, and Brown said it’s too early to say exactly what impact the new United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) will have overall. But at this point, Brown said it’s tough to see where Canada’s dairy producers benefit.
“We certainly have taken a hit,” Brown added. “I’ve not been able to see where we’ve gained anywhere, it’s been an agreement of damage control rather than one where parties give on some things and get on others.”
Brown said dairy producers have never looked for compensation, or “a handout” from government, but said that will likely be part of the discussion moving forward. Brown said the dairy industry in Canada is really the only one in the world that works at the moment due to controls over the amount of supply that is readily available.
“All the other major milk-producing countries are awash in milk,” he added. “So, we thought, and continue to think, our story is quite strong in support of our system.”
Industry groups across the country have been critical of the impacts on Canada's dairy industry since word of the new agreement came out late Sunday evening. Many in the dairy industry said Monday that expanded access from the U.S. to Canada’s supply will be detrimental to local markets.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland confirmed Monday a compensation package for supply-managed producers of dairy and poultry would be put together.
With files from Canadian Press
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