TPP could be last straw for dairy sector, says NFU

(Sept. 30, 2015) - In spite of Trade Minister Fast’s denial of media reports that he has offered ten percent of Canada’s milk supply to the United States during this week’s Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, the National Farmers Union (NFU) remains concerned. During Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) negotiations the federal government made public promises to protect our supply management system, while behind closed doors it gave the European Union an additional five percent of our high-end cheese market. Canadian dairy farmers and processors will lose a total of nine percent of our cheese market to Europe if CETA is ratified.
 
"The Harper government is hypocritical -- verbally defending supply management while in reality delivering death by a thousand cuts," said Jan Slomp, NFU President. “How much more of this kind of “defence” can we survive?”
 
In July, during the last TPP negotiating session Fast weakened Canada’s bargaining position by indicating willingness to reduce dairy tariffs and increase tariff-free imports of milk. Since the GATT and the Uruguay Round of the WTO, Canadian farmers’ share of our own dairy market has been nibbled away bit by bit through various trade deals. The loss of 17,000 tonnes of cheese production to Europe with CETA and the potential to lose 10% of our market to the USA with TPP are the latest developments under the current government’s watch.
 
“Family dairy farms in Canada provide an important economic base for rural communities,” said Randall Affleck, NFU member and Prince Edward Island dairy farmer. “If we lose any more of our dairy market Canadian farmers will have to reduce production, and some will have to quit farming. Our processing sector will be destabilized, putting those workers out of a job, too. Meanwhile, American importers will get the benefit of milk marketing efforts designed and paid for by Canadian producers.”
 
“Canada’s supply management system works for farmers, processors, and consumers. Unlike the USA, Canada does not allow the genetically modified growth hormone, rBGH, to be used to increase dairy cows’ milk production, and our dairy farmers are not subsidized by the taxpayer,” added Slomp. “Supply management does not control the grocery store price of milk – that is determined by the retailers, who can set the price at whatever the market will bear. The farm-gate price paid to New Zealand dairy farmers is one of the lowest in the world, well below the cost of production, yet New Zealand consumers pay some of the highest prices for milk of any country.”
 
“New Zealand, Australia and the USA are pressuring Canada in these TPP negotiations because they have embraced an export-oriented dairy strategy that has dramatically failed to serve their farmers,” said Slomp. “The Harper government should not be offering up a sacrifice in the form of our own farmers, workers and rural communities. Canada needs to say an unequivocal No!”
 
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For more information:
Jan Slomp, NFU President: (250) 898-8223 or (403) 704-4364
Randall Affleck, NFU Seed and Trade Committee member: (902) 887-2597 or (902) 432-0930
NFU Election 2015 Series: Trade Agreements – CETA and the TPP