Ru­mors of ma­jor con­ces­sions in TPP talks worry farm­ers

Stanstead Journal - - LEN NOXVILLE NEWS - Vic­to­ria Vanier

On Satur­day, the pres­i­dent of the Union des pro­duc­teurs agri­coles ( UPA) and spokesper­son for the Coali­tion GO5, Mar­cel Groleau, re­acted strongly to the in­for­ma­tion re­ported by the CBC that, as part of the Trans Pa­cific Part­ner­ship trade talks, Canada was ready to make a ma­jor con­ces­sion of 10 % of the Cana­dian dairy mar­ket to the Amer­i­cans. “This would be a catas­tro­phe for the Cana­dian dairy sec­tor, our fam­ily farms, lo­cal pro­duc­tion and the tens of thou­sands of em­ploy­ees who de­pend on it. And it will be Que­bec, where 43 % of farm rev­enue de­pends on sup­ply man­age­ment, which will be hit hard­est. The Harper gov­ern­ment must re­spect its com­mit­ments and pro­tect the sup­ply man­age­ment sys­tem in the TPP,” com­mented Mr. Groleau.

The blow could be fa­tal for the sup­ply man­age­ment sys­tem which as­sures Cana­di­ans a lo­cal sup­ply of high qual­ity prod­ucts and pro­vides farm­ers with a fair and sta­ble in­come, with­out fi­nan­cial sub­si­dies, while Amer­i­can dairy farms en­joy sub­si­dies that have not been put on the ta­ble dur­ing the TPP ne­go­ti­a­tions. The Amer­i­can farms also profit from bet­ter weather con­di­tions and low-priced man­power, of­ten un­der the ta­ble. The size of the Amer­i­can dairy sec­tor is more than ten times the size of the Cana­dian sec­tor and the ma­jor­ity of pro­duc­tion comes from the south­west United States, where farms have an av­er­age of sev­eral thou­sand cows. The av­er­age num­ber of cows on a fam­ily farm in Que­bec is sixty.

“If this ru­mor be­comes part of the agree­ment this week dur­ing the min­is­te­rial con­fer­ence in At­lanta, we will feel be­trayed by the gov­ern­ment,” said Bruno Le­tendre, the pres­i­dent of the Pro­duc­teurs de lait du Québec (PLQ).

In last Thurs­day’s elec­toral de­bate, Prime Min­is­ter Harper con­firmed that he would de­fend the sup­ply man­age­ment sys­tem in the TPP ne­go­ti­a­tions af­ter be­ing ques­tioned by the lead­ers of the NDP, the Bloc Que­be­cois and the Green Party. Ear­lier in the day, about 1,500 farm pro­duc­ers held a protest in front of the Ra­dio-Canada tower, where the de­bate was tak­ing place, to ask that all the lead­ers work to pre­serve the sup­ply man­age­ment sys­tem by not giv­ing up new ac­cess to the Cana­dian mar­ket and to main­tain the tar­iff lev­els.

The pres­i­dent of the PLQ added: “We im­port more than 8 % of our dairy needs, and most of those im­por­ta­tions come from the United States. This quan­tity con­tin­ues to in­crease with the im­por­ta­tions of Amer­i­can con­cen­trated milk pro­tein which en­ters Canada with­out lim­its or tar­iffs be­cause of Canada’s lax­ness re­gard­ing con­trols in com­mer­cial agree­ments. The United States im­ports less than 2 % of their mar­ket needs and they de­mand that Canada open its bor­der wider to com­pen­sate for the new ac­cess they have ac­corded to dairy prod­ucts from New Zealand. Canada shouldn’t have to ab­sorb Amer­i­can losses,” said Mr. Le­tendre.

Milk pro­duc­ers need to be rapidly as­sured that they will not be sac­ri­ficed once again in the TPP talks as they were in the Canada-Europe Ac­cord. The 17,700 tons of new im­ported cheeses con­ceded by Canada equals more than 30 % of the Cana­dian fine cheese mar­ket and causes an­nual losses of about $300 mil­lion to Cana­dian milk and cheese pro­duc­ers. We have given enough!” con­cluded the pres­i­dent of the PLQ.

Photo Vic­to­ria vanier

The grow­ing sea­son has been great for feed crops.

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