High stakes: NAFTA and dairy farmers
The stakes are high for area farmers, and the regional economy, as the North American Free Trade Agreement talks continue.
Local dairy farmers have a special interest in the negotiations as US President Donald Trump has persistently complained about Canada’s supply management system. While the federal govern- ment has insisted that supply management is not on the table, there is concern that Ottawa will permit more American dairy imports in order to avert higher tariffs on automobiles.
Any trade concessions that affect the dairy industry would have a profound impact on Glengarry, where one in ten jobs is directly linked to milk production, a business that generates about $260 million in revenues every year in the five eastern counties.
In Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry, cash receipts in 2016 for all farmers totalled $422 million, with dairy accounting for $151 million of that number, according to the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. In Prescott-Russell, total agricultural revenues were $274 million, including $107 milllion in the dairy sector.
In Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry, the agriculture industry employs about 2,610 people. In North Glengarry, farming accounts for ten per cent of the work force.
There are 263 dairy operations in SDG and 195 in PrescottRussell.
On a provincial level, milk represents the largest sector in Ontario’s agricultural economy with more than 3,570 dairy farms, 11,000 farm families, and 72 processors and are a growing part of the economy with over 15% growth in the last two years. The sector contributes over $1.3 billion to Ontario’s economy each year.