U.S. NAFTA dairy demands unacceptable: Alberta agriculture minister

“It’s just another shot across the bow they’ve done with other sectors as well, putting something on the table we cannot accept,” Oneil Carlier said Tuesday. “Absolutely, there are concerns.”

He was responding to reports that American negotiators want an end to the supply management system for dairy, chicken, eggs and turkey within the next decade.

“We’re a strong supporter of the supply management system,” Carlier said. “The system is working very well … It makes for a safe and reliable supply of those products to our consumers.”
The latest demands come near the end of a weeklong round where American negotiators dropped one bombshell demand after another, leading other countries to question whether the U.S. goal is to blow up NAFTA altogether.

Two sources told The Canadian Press the request came on Sunday evening, catching some on the Canadian side off-guard, since they hadn’t expected the highly contentious issue to arise during the current round.

One source said the supply-management request came with an initial phase-in period of five per cent more market access per year, leading to total duty-free, quota-free trade in protected supply-managed areas within 10 years.

That adds dairy, poultry and eggs to a list of irritants that also include auto parts, textiles, trade-enforcement panels, “Buy American” rules for public works and a proposed five-year termination clause embedded in the agreement, with the countries holding not just different positions, but sitting on opposite sides of gaping ideological differences.

“It’s unfortunate they are taking a hard stance, but I’m hoping the negotiations will be fruitful just the same, knowing how integrated all our agriculture is between the three countries,” Carlier said.

Leaders in the dairy industry also voiced concern about the latest proposal.

“Outrageous,” said Pierre Lampron, president of the Dairy Farmers of Canada. “It would be the end of supply management … We are not surprised by the U.S. demands, they are in line with the demands they have made in other sectors.”


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