Supply-managed sector compensation details due before election

Federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau has pledged to lay out details on trade pact compensation for supply-managed sectors before the federal election in October.

The pledge comes as the federal Liberals face pressure from supply-managed sectors and the federal opposition Conservatives to deliver on compensation for access granted to the Canadian market under Canada’s free trade pacts with the European Union and Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Compensation for supply-managed sectors in the wake of the CETA and Trans-Pacific deals has been pledged since well before the previous federal election in 2015.

“These agreements are in place and their negative impacts can already be felt by the dairy sector across the country,” DFC president Pierre Lampron said in a statement Friday, at the end of the federal/provincial/territorial agriculture ministers’ two-day meeting in Quebec City.

Details and allocation on compensation “are essential to restore stability and confidence in the dairy sector,” he said.

However, he noted, during the DFC’s annual meeting last week in Saskatoon, Bibeau “committed to providing the details of the compensation package before the end of the federal government’s current mandate.”

DFC, he said, “is holding the minister to account to follow through on her commitment.”

The Conservatives’ agriculture critic Luc Berthold, in a separate statement Tuesday before the ag ministers’ meeting, said Bibeau “promised Canadian milk, egg and poultry farmers that a compensation plan would be in place by June 30, but the Liberals have blown past their own deadline and failed to deliver any of the $3.9 billion farmers are counting on.”

With the next federal election coming up Oct. 21, he said, “the Trudeau government would rather play politics and delay compensation for their re-election campaign than deliver on their promises. Justin Trudeau must finally release the compensation details promised to Canadian farmers so they can finally receive the support they need.”

Bibeau, in a separate statement Sunday, said the federal government “with the collaboration of representatives from supply-managed industries, is working hard to put in place funding mechanisms that meet the needs of producers.

“We are committed to unveiling the details of the compensation before the end of this mandate, and we will begin to get processes underway to ensure the sector can benefit from it as soon as possible.”

Bibeau reiterated Ottawa has committed up to $3.9 billion for supply-managed farmers in response to the CETA and CPTPP trade agreements and is “also committed to a second block of compensation that will come after the ratification of the new NAFTA,” also known as the Canada-U.S.-Mexico Agreement or CUSMA.

Berthold said Tuesday the lack of details on compensation “comes as no surprise since the Liberals have been failing our agriculture sector for the last four years — raising taxes, making concessions to Donald Trump during NAFTA negotiations, failing to stand up for Canada when China banned meat, soy and canola seed exports, and leaving our farmers with greater uncertainty.”

Bibeau retorted Sunday that “nearly half of Conservative members are in favour of seeing the supply management system in Canada dismantled. While the Conservatives wanted us to capitulate on NAFTA, we did not give in to Conservative calls to abandon our supply managed farmers in response to very strong American attempts to see it dismantled.”

The government, she said, “did not take lessons from the Conservatives, and instead we have safeguarded more than $2 billion a day in cross-border trade and tariff-free access to our No. 1 market for Canadian exports.” — Glacier FarmMedia Network

luc berthold
Limits on ag support payments to larger producers have led "directly" to Saskatchewan's second largest pork producer filing for bankruptcy protection, according to the provincial pork development board. SaskPork said in a release Wednesday that Stomp Pork Farms (SPF) filed to buy time to develop a new plan and restructure its debt with creditors, while maintaining business as usual in the near term. Pork producers in Saskatchewan are now losing over $40 to $60 on every pig they produce, the board said, and while new federal and provincial safety nets help many to cope, the three major support programs "seriously disadvantage" the industry's larger farms. "For example, the 2008 federal AgriStability program is expected to provide support payments of at least $30 per hog sold to most producers," the board wrote. "Due to the limit of support to larger producers as a result of the caps, Stomp Pork Farms would receive less than $6 per pig sold." Thus, SPF and the other large operators that make up 60 per cent of the province's pork production "are left with little or no support," SaskPork said. Larger operators pay "millions in uncapped taxes" each year and employ thousands of people in rural Saskatchewan, using "millions of bushels" of locally grown feed grain and supporting local rural businesses, the board noted. Requests from the industry to remove caps from the current suite of farm support programs "have been ignored," SaskPork wrote, noting letters sent March 14 to the provincial and federal agriculture ministers by several Saskatchewan livestock groups as well as by major producer Big Sky Farms, pork producer Olymel and Quebec's hog farmer association. SaskPork said it would be "unacceptable" for the lack of response to continue on this issue, as hog producers have "life-altering decisions" to make. "The time for waiting for the industry to heal itself is over."

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