Considering opening up supply management was described by some countries as Canada’s price of admission into the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the result of the TPP negotiations announced on Monday was a “best case scenario,” according to the head of Dairy Farmers of Canada.
After spending the last week in Atlanta for the final round of TPP talks, Wally Smith took some time on Monday to discuss the terms of the deal — an additional 3.25 percent of the Canadian dairy market opened to imports — and the federal government’s $4.3 billion supply management compensation package with RealAgriculture.
“If you look back to when Canada was first invited to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership discussions, there was a lot of alarm about supply management being put on the table,” he notes. “With the entire system being on the table and other countries putting a lot of pressure on Canada to have it phased out, certainly the result today is a best case scenario.”
“Coupled with the compensation, it takes a lot of the angst out of the equation,” Smith continues.
He says the compensation is justified because it’s only accounting for what dairy and poultry producers are losing. The supportive argument that supply management doesn’t rely on government funding still stands, argues Smith.
“The system itself is able to stand on its own without government subsidy, but in this case, part of our market has been taken away,” he says. “It’s neither a subsidy or a government support. It’s a price that the Conservative government is paying in their support for supply management.”
NDP leader Tom Mulcair has stated repeatedly his party will not be bound to ratifying the trade deal if they win the federal election on October 19th. So would Smith prefer a scenario where Parliament doesn’t ratify the deal over the plan unveiled by the Conservative government on Monday?
“That’s speculating at it’s best, but I can say the conversation around the lobbies in Atlanta was that if a country is outside the TPP and is looking to join it, say five years in, the price then that would be extracted from Canada would be enormous. We would not be inside the treaty group as we have been to help shape this,” he says.
With the TPP deal complete and multilateral World Trade Organization negotiations all but dead, two of the primary external threats to the quota system appear to be history.
“Certainly with the elimination of a fear of a trade deal, I think that gives us maybe a time of less turbulence,” says Smith.