Thou­sands of dairy farm­ers go to House of Com­mons

Stanstead Journal - - FORUM - Vic­to­ria Vanier

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.

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