As negotiations continue on one of the biggest trade deals in history, Canadian dairy farmers are concerned their very way of life could be changed forever.
Negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership involves 12 countries, including Canada. Our supply management system has come under fire, with the U.S. and New Zealand pressuring Canada to open up more of its market.
Canada seems to be prepared to open the borders to more American milk, but farmer and chair of Dairy Farmers of Manitoba David Wiens says if this were to happen, it’d destroy dairy farmers across the nation.
“If the government is to open up the market at a level that is being demanded by the U.S., it would basically be the beginning of the end for the system as we know it today.”
Sylvain Charlebois is a professor at the University of Guelph’s food institute, and he agrees that the deal will have a major impact on the dairy industry, but believes that the producers will have to be more competitive.
“That’s the choice they have to make, and they may not have much of a choice. Frankly, I think they can compete but it just doesn’t want to. To produce one litre of milk in Canada is more costly than most industrialized countries.”
Charlebois says despite the concerns over the dairy industry, most Canadians actually stand to gain from a deal.
“We also need to be honest with ourselves. This deal is not about Canada. It’s about the US trying to undermine China. We live right next to a superpower. If we don’t sign the deal, we will become isolated.”
The Prime Minister has vowed to stand behind dairy producers. TPP talks wrap on Tuesday, with trade ministers meeting later in the week.