Prime Minister pledges to ensure ‘thriving’ dairy industry post USMCA

Trudeau said while he understands the industry's concerns 'there's not question this is a good deal.'

  • Oct. 6, 2018 12:00 a.m.

Second-generation dairy farmer David Janssens walks through a pasture as his dairy cows graze at Nicomekl Farms, in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday August 30, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Just days after officials from the U.S., Mexico and Canada inked a new trade agreement, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau heard the sour feedback from dairy farmers firsthand Thursday.

With the thorny issue of supply management at the forefront of trade negotiations between the U.S. and Canada, there was nervousness in the Canadian dairy sector as the Americans pushed more access to the Canadian market.

U.S. President Donald Trump has frequently criticized Canada’s dairy industry and its supply management system that he calls a subsidy. In the end, the so-called U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) includes access to the Canadian market by American dairy farmers.

READ MORE: Dairy farmers react sourly to Canada’s new trade deal with U.S. and Mexico

“This has happened, despite assurances that our government would not sign a bad deal for Canadians,” Pierre Lampron, president of Dairy Farmers Canada, said in the statement earlier this week. “We fail to see how this deal can be good for the 220,000 Canadian families that depend on dairy for their livelihood.”

But on Thursday, Trudeau told The Canadian Press said while he understands the concerns “there’s not question this is a good deal.”

Trudeau said the federal government will be working with the industry to determine what compensation is needed to ensure stability for the sector.

“They told me they were worried, they told me they felt they have continued to give through a number of trade deals we have signed and they are right,” he said.

With files from Paul Henderson


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