Kamloops-Okanagan dairy farmers unhappy with USMCA deal

Kamloops-Okanagan Dairy Association encourages consumers to look for blue cow logo on dairy products

The president of the Kamloops-Okanagan Dairy Association is asking Canadian consumers to look for the blue cow logo on their products to ensure 100 per cent Canadian dairy agreements in the wake of this week’s newly announced U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade deal.

Henry Bremer of Cliffview Farms in Enderby said the new deal, which may see Canadian dairy farmers stand to lose 3.59 per cent of their market to U.S. producers, could mean U.S. milk with lesser health standards than in Canada making its way onto Canadian shelves.

“We are caught in the middle of crazy politics,” said Bremer. “President Trump has pushed so hard for U.S. dairy access into our market, yet we already import five times more dairy from the U.S. than we export. That is a very sizable pre-existing trade deficit.

“The US have really massive overproduction problems, and additional access to the Canadian market won’t even come close to fixing it. The total dairy production of Canada is equal to that of the State of Wisconsin. What the U.S. needs is to look at adopting a supply managed structure, not trying to solve their problems by bullying their way into ours.”

RELATED: B.C. dairy farmers say new trade deal ‘terribly weakens’ industry

Within the last four years Ottawa has granted dairy access under three trade agreements: CETA, CPTPP, and now NAFTA/USMCA, said Bremer. This equates to the federal government giving away an additional 10 per cent of the Canadian market in under four years, plus new Class 7 restrictions which will increase this number even higher.

“This is really hurting dairy farm families,” said Bremer. “The continuing diminishing returns within the industry are creating a great deal of instability and it will drive some producers out of business.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday dairy farmers will be compensated for expected losses under the new trade deal. He made the promise directly to dairy representatives in Montreal.

RELATED: North Okanagan dairy hosts Breakfast on the Farm

Dairy is an attractive market in a trade agreement, said Bremer.

“The dairy industries in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand and the U.K. have all been struggling with rampant over-production and a global price glut for milk,” he said. “Canada, meanwhile, has been the global standard of a stable, successful dairy industry, including right here in the North Okanagan and Shuswap area. In their shortsightedness, the federal government is throwing our dairy farms into ongoing instability by granting access to these failing dairy markets that are desperate for new markets to dump their excess milk.”

Added Dave Taylor, chairperson of the B.C. Dairy Association earlier in the week: “Once again, dairy farmers are being made to pay the price to conclude an international trade agreement. “We understand that we’re part of a larger economy but our industry can’t be made victim to one trade agreement after the next. This amount of market access is a textbook example of our government saying one thing, and doing another. This is just not acceptable.”



roger@vernonmorningstar.com

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