Canadian dairy industry pleased with federal support at NAFTA.
By: Jordie Dwyer
Source: Ponoka News
With negotiations on a major trade agreement going on this week, one agricultural sector that is a big part of central Alberta could be a big reason talks fall apart.
Discussions among industry executives and government officials from Canada, Mexico and the United States are in Montreal for the sixth round of renegotiations on the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) this week.
And while there has been some optimism expressed by Canadian officials, the U.S. has recently been spouting it wants to pull out of the deal unless major concessions are made. That includes dismantling what is perceived as a monopolistic dairy industry.
Ashlee Smith, assistant director of internal communications and corporate sponsorship with the Dairy Farmers of Canada, stated it has been positive to have the backing of the Canadian government during the negotiations.
“The Prime Minister and his cabinet have clearly expressed their support and willingness to defend and protect the dairy industry and supply management. The support of the Canadian government continues to be very important to Canada’s dairy farmers,” she said just before NAFTA talks started on Jan. 23.
Smith noted that the dairy industry was not part of NAFTA previously, having been exempted by all three countries. However, with a big change in direction from the Trump administration, the issue has been put on the table — something that left Canadian industry officials disconcerted.
“During the re-negotiations, the U.S. has made outrageous demands regarding our sector, which the Canadian government was very quick to dismiss as a ‘non-starter,’” Smith said.
“The Dairy Farmers of Canada continues to attend every round of the negotiations to ensure they stay true to their word.”
Smith wouldn’t comment on what effects Canada’s dairy farmers might face if the NAFTA agreement is torn up. However, she did state that dairy farmers must not be impacted in a negative fashion as a consequence of any trade agreement.
NAFTA discussions were set to run until Jan. 29, but are being extended to Feb. 1 as the Americans voiced displeasure with Canada filing a sweeping complaint to the World Trade Organization regarding the U.S. pursuit of indigenous and labour trade provisions.