BC Dairy Producers,
It was an explosive week. The promises from our federal government to protect supply management were empty promises, as our Canadian government traded away part of our industry once again and left us in disbelief. This government has lied to us, and put the future of our industry in doubt. I’d like you to take a moment to listen to Dairy Farmers of Canada President Pierre Lampron who has a message to us as dairy producers. There is also a promise in the video from our Prime Minister from this past July – you be the judge on whether he has fulfilled his promise. Please click here to see the video: https://youtu.be/DjOn_vLEDQs.
As dairy farmers I appeal to you to familiarize yourself with the details of this agreement. The following documents tell us what we know so far. There is a fact sheet, an update on the trade agreement and some FAQs to consider. Upon reading these, there is no doubt that what has been agreed to will have a huge impact on our industry. When this agreement (USMCA), along with the CPTPP and CETA are fully implemented, it is estimated that 18% of our market will have been given away to foreign countries. We cannot ignore this! We cannot just focus on farming! We must engage our politicians with the truths surrounding the impact of this agreement to our sector.
I also want to inform our producer community that meetings are ongoing to determine the best steps forward in regards to Class 7, and how the industry will deal with its removal. A committee of producer and processor representatives will be formed next week to begin work on this. We expect a member of the BCMMB to be a part of this committee. Of course there are some things that will just happen, like the market access of 3.6% that will be given to the US; this will be across all product lines, and will phase in over a 6-year time span. This hurts our net worth and it hurts our cash flow. This is market that you and I have grown through our investment, and now it has been given away.
Our government cannot claim to stand up for supply management when they sacrifice our domestic market, cap our export capacity and allow the US to interfere with our domestic pricing systems. In addition, our government is now wanting to make their problem go away by offering compensation. All this does is take the attention off of them (who have made a bad deal) and put it on us in a negative way. We will deal with this issue at an appropriate time and upon consulting fully with industry – now is not the time to address this. Our message today is that we are not for sale!
I would ask producers and their families to call or email their local Member of Parliament (MP) to express their disappointment, anger and uncertainty now that this decision has been made. It doesn’t matter what political party your MP is from – they must be made aware that this affects your livelihood in a very direct way.
I know that some of you are seasoned in visiting your elected representatives. But for those of us who don't have a lot of experience, remember that you are talking about your industry and you know a heck of a lot about it. Besides the information in the fact sheet, here are a few things to consider sharing:
- An introduction of your family, your farm and the people that work alongside you.
- Describe your farm (its history, cow numbers, acres of land, etc.).
- Talk about the economic contribution your farm generates in your local area, the jobs that your farm provides, and list some of the businesses that you engage with regularly.
- If you have expanded or have heavily invested recently – please give them a picture around this and the impact this has when your cash flow is reduced.
- Talk about how another 3.6% of your market was given away. This comes after the 3.25% market loss through the TPP, and 1.5% market loss through CETA. And before that, our market was already open to about 10% of foreign competition! Small businesses can’t survive continued reductions.
- Speak about the uncertainty that this brings your farm and your family. How can the next generation commit to farming when the government keeps giving away our livelihoods?
- Are you thinking of exiting the industry because “enough is enough”? MPs need to hear that.
We are in no way done with trade deals. The UK is currently working on an exit strategy from the EU, and they will want a trade deal with Canada which likely includes dairy access. Already underway is MERCOSUR, which is a 4-country South American group in talks with Canada. There will be others. We need to say loudly and clearly to our government that our future must be secured by no more concessions.
You have been accused of being a powerful dairy lobby – let’s get on with it – it’s time to act!
To conclude, if you have any questions or need clarification on any specifics, do not hesitate to contact the BC Dairy office at 1-800-242-MILK. (Please ask for Trevor Hargreaves or Paul Hargreaves.) The Directors at BC Dairy are also available to speak with you on these matters. Please don’t hesitate to contact any of us.
BC Dairy Association