Thousands of dairy farmers go to House of Commons
About 2,500 dairy farmers from all regions of Quebec assembled in front of the House of Commons along with their colleagues from across the country last Thursday, June 2nd. With the demonstration, the dairy producers showed unequivocally how important the supply management system is to the future of their businesses and demanded that the government act to correct the problems at the border that have been negatively affecting the system for several years. They demanded concrete gestures by the federal government regarding dia-filtered milk and also want the confirmation that they will be compensated for the annual damages of around $400 million dollars that will be done to the milk industry when the agreements of the TransPacific Partnership and the Global Commercial Economic Agreement between Canada and the European Union go into effect.
“The Canadian government must understand that thousands of farm enterprises are at the end of their rope because of losses and that the producers have no more patience. When we combine the financial losses that we have known for a year notably because of the importation of dia-filtered milk with the impacts of the commercial agreements with Europe and the countries in the TPP, it will represent more than the revenue made on our farms to support our families. We do want to feed all Canadian families, but we also want to be capable of feeding our own, from our work,” said the president of the Quebec Milk Producers, Bruno Letendre.
The Canadian norm for the composition of cheese contains a clear and strict limit for milk ingredients that don’t come directly from milk. Created solely to avoid the border tariffs, dia-filtered milk is classed as a milk ingredient by the Canadian Border Services Agency and exempted from tariffs. But once inside Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency classifies it as milk which allows transformers to get around the established norms. In 2015, Canadian milk producers lost about $220 million in revenue because of these importations.
The 5,624 dairy farms deliver annually close to three billion liters of milk; total sales at the farms of more than $2.38 billion. The production and transformation of milk generates about 83,000 direct, indirect and related jobs in Quebec alone and contributes $6.2 billion to the gross domestic product.