2019 BUDGET: Liberals promise billions for dairy, chicken farmers affected by trade deals

2019 BUDGET: Liberals promise billions for dairy, chicken farmers affected by trade deals

The budget earmarks $1.5 billion for farmers who lose money when they sell their production rights

The Trudeau government is promising billions of dollars to compensate dairy, egg and poultry farmers hurt by Canada’s recent free-trade agreements — industries concentrated in vote-rich Quebec and Ontario.

The $3.65 billion the government is setting aside includes $2.15 billion to help farmers who lose income because of trade deals with Europe and countries on the Pacific Rim, both of which make it easier for foreign egg, dairy and poultry producers to enter the Canadian market.

That is in addition to a $250-million, five-year fund established in 2016 to compensate dairy farmers for the European Union deal.

The budget earmarks $1.5 billion for farmers who lose money when they sell their production rights in the supply-management system, which limits egg, poultry and dairy production in Canada. To gain the right to sell supply-managed products, farmers have to buy “quota,” often from existing producers who want to leave the industry.

The system also limits foreign products by slapping steep tariffs on imports beyond a certain level, which raises their price at the grocery store and makes them less attractive to consumers. Allowing more foreign-produced food into the Canadian market will increase competition for products from Canadian farmers.

READ MORE: As deficit grows, feds spend on job retraining, home incentives

“To ensure that Canada’s dairy, poultry and egg farmers can continue to provide Canadians with high-quality products in a world of freer trade, we will make available an income protection program for supply-managed farmers, along with a measure to protect the value of quota investments these farmers have already made,” Finance Minister Bill Morneau said in his prepared budget speech.

The budget does not provide details on how or when the money will be distributed to farmers and producers, who have long railed against any move that would expand foreign involvement in those sectors.

But the government appears to be hoping the promise of compensation will provide a salve to supply-managed farmers, many of whom are clumped in key ridings in Quebec and Ontario and angry that the deals have weakened their grip on the market.

That could prove important for the Liberals, who will likely need a strong showing in the two provinces in this year’s federal election to have a hope of retaining power.

The budget also indicates more money could be forthcoming as the government works with industry “to address the impacts on processing, as well as potential future impacts of the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement.”

The North American deal, which will succeed NAFTA, has yet to be ratified and come into effect. That deal is the third free-trade agreement in which Canada agreed to open its supply-managed sectors, which emerged last year as a favourite target of U.S. President Donald Trump, particularly the dairy sector.

Supply management has long been hotly debated in Canada.

Proponents say the system keeps the market from getting saturated, which keeps prices stable and ensures steady incomes for farmers while protecting food safety, ensuring higher-quality products and eliminating the need for direct subsidies.

Critics say it drives up the cost of dairy, eggs and chicken for consumers, which has a disproportionate impact on low-income families. The system has been a frequent target in — and barrier to — past free-trade negotiations.

Successive federal governments for decades nonetheless resisted opening Canada to more tariff-free imports from other countries, in part because of the political implications.

But when Stephen Harper was prime minister, the Conservatives opened the door to change when they agreed to ease restrictions on European cheese imports through the Canada-European Union trade deal, which was signed and came into force under the Trudeau Liberals.

Ottawa then agreed, in the 11-country Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, to give participants more access to Canada’s dairy, egg and poultry markets.

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Canadian Mental Health Association Shuswap Revelstoke’s homeless outreach coordinator Carly Shipmaker and practicum student Sarena Bryden take a turn on Thursday, May 6 on the stationary bike. They were cycling under the blue sun canopy outside the CMHA thrift shop to promote Mental Health Week and to prepare for this year’s Ride Don’t Hide event in June. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
Getting the wheels turning for Salmon Arm’s Ride Don’t Hide event

Canadian Mental Health Association awareness and fundraising campaign to run throughout June

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is an independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C.’s 1st vaccine-induced blood clot case detected in Interior Health

Interior Health also recorded 52 new cases of COVID-19

Interior Health provided updated data breaking down the vaccine administration totals in communities throughout the region on Monday, May 3, 2021. (File photo)
Nearly 40% of Shuswap adults vaccinated

More than 12,000 people in the Salmon Arm health area received their first COVID-19 vaccine

Ian Syme gets ready to swing the bat during skills training and picture day for Salmon Arm Minor Baseball 6U players at the Hillcrest Elementary field on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)
Young Salmon Arm ballplayers in training

Salmon Arm Minor Baseball Association seeking sponsorships for batting cage

The monthly totals from Jan.1, 2020 to April 30, 2021 show COVID-19 cases for most Local Health Areas in the North Okanagan-Shuswap, other than Vernon’s with the largest population, staying well below 400. (BC Centre for Disease Control image)
16 months in, COVID cases in North Okanagan-Shuswap areas stay under 1,000

Vernon, with the largest population, hovers under 900 cases since January 2020

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

The Primary Urgent Care Centre on Martin Street officially opened on March 31, 2021. (Brennan Phillips)
Okanagan-Similkameen Regional Hospital District reverses funding decision on care centre

Approval now granted to fund $1 million for Urgent and Primary Care Centre in Penticton

Motorists breaking travel rules can be fined $230 for failing to follow instructions or $575 if the reason for travel violates the essential travel health order, at this Highway 3 check area near Manning Park. Photo RCMP
RCMP begin checking drivers on BC highways

Four check points are set up Thursday May 6 around the province

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Kelowna City Hall. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
New temporary outdoor shelter in Kelowna opens

The new area on Richter Street and Weddell Place replaces the Baillie Avenue site

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

Most Read