Dairy farmers are still waiting to find out if the new federal government will honour the word of its Conservative predecessor.
They were promised compensation to offset market loss under two proposed trade deals, but six months into its mandate, the Trudeau government has been noncommittal.
Speaking at a Dairy Farmers of Manitoba meeting here last week, chairman David Wiens said the organization is continuing to push the government, but has been told no decision will be made until the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are ratified.
“So that’s their angle on it, but we’ve certainly been lobbying them in terms of the need to have this compensation as part of these deals, because our market was given away,” Wiens said.
“During our lobby days in February, we had the opportunity to meet with all the MPs in Ottawa and of course our message was about the impact that these kind of deals have on the Canadian dairy industry and what our expectations are on the part of government.”
When initially announced under the previous Conservative government, the Canada-EU trade deal was purported to open the Canadian dairy market by 3.25 per cent, but Wiens said new calculations by Dairy Farmers of Canada put that amount closer to four per cent.
“Milk displaced by this agreement will of course never be produced in Canada again,” he said, but he added that the deal could have been more damaging for dairy farmers if overall tariffs had been affected.
“This was only a partial opening up of our markets; it did not lower overall tariffs, which would have been much worse for us,” Wiens said.
He hopes that the current federal government lets dairy farmers know what decision has been made as soon as possible, so producers can plan for the future and make adjustments if they need too. While there has been no formal announcement made, Wiens said the expectation is the Canada-EU deal will come into effect next January.
“When it comes to CETA it is our understanding that there have been some developments there,” he said. “Canada and the EU have come to an agreement, there is a few outstanding issues that they managed to work through fairly recently, so at this point the Canadian government is very confident that the deal will be entered into force next year.”