MacAulay non-committal on dairy program to offset CPTPP concessions

Stock photo, 2015.

The federal Liberals remain non-committal on whether they will offer compensation to the supply-managed dairy and poultry sectors for market access that will be conceded if the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) is ratified.

The CPTPP terms agreed to last month would open up an additional 3.25 percent of Canada’s domestic dairy market to imports from the other 10 member countries. Concessions were also made to allow more chicken, egg and turkey imports.

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer and his party have criticized the Liberals for not announcing compensation for the supply-managed industries.

Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay was asked how the government plans to address the 3.25 percent concession by a BC dairy farmer at the Dairy Farmers of Canada annual policy conference in Ottawa this week.

“It’s well recognized there was a concession and I’m fully aware there was a concession, I think if we sit down as a group, with myself, with you as a representative and other representatives and Agriculture and Agri-food Canada, we will come up with a program that will hopefully make – and I feel sure it will make – the dairy industry stronger than it has ever been,” said the minister.

“Over the past few weeks, myself, my Parliamentary Secretary and Minister Champagne have started to sit down immediately with the sector to analyze the impacts this will have on the sector,” he continued.

In 2015, when Canada’s Conservative government agreed to the original Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, the Harper government announced a $4.3 billion “transitionary” package for dairy and poultry on the same day. It was described as compensation for both the TPP and concessions made in the Canada-EU trade agreement (CETA). The Liberals chose to not move ahead with the funding promise after winning the federal election a few weeks later.

While he didn’t commit to a CPTPP program, MacAulay highlighted the Liberals’ CETA compensation programs announced last August during his speech at the DFC meeting.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada says around 500 dairy producers have been approved to receive $23.5 million under the $250 million Dairy Farm Investment Program. Applications under the $100 million Dairy Processing Investment Fund are still under review.

“The fact that a majority of applicants will have at least one of their projects supported under the Dairy Farm Investment Program is great news for Canada’s dairy producers right across the country,” said MacAulay. “These investments are just one of the many ways the Government continues to support the dairy sector to ensure it remains strong.”

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