“But according to Globe and Mail sources, the deal is currently stalled over Canada’s reluctance to open its sheltered dairy market to foreign imports, among a few other points.
In an interview earlier this week with Bloomberg News, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said his government is trying to protect the supply management system.
“The government is at the table, making sure it protects the interests as best we can of every Canadian industry,” he said. “We have made commitments to sustain our supply management systems, and we are working to achieve that.”
Supply management in the dairy industry involves import restrictions, government-set prices and predetermined levels of production.
It keeps supply and prices steady, which in turn avoids massive surpluses of milk that tank the price.
In the U.S. and Europe, where supply management isn’t used, such surpluses have led to government subsidies to help farmers when the price drops.
According to the Dairy Farmers of Canada, those subsidies can go as high as $55 billion euros a year in Europe, while the U.S. shells out $4 billion.
Now, TPP partners wanting to bring surplus milk to new markets are looking to Canada.
Dairy farmers depend on growth like any other industry to sustain themselves and feed the country, but it doesn’t end there, Versteeg said.
“Let’s face it: agriculture isn’t just about feeding people, it’s about employing people as well,” he said.
If the supply management system is hit hard by the TPP deal, up to 25,000 direct jobs in the dairy industry and even more indirect jobs could be affected, he said.
“If the whole system is dismantled, probably half of the farms in Canada would disappear,” he said. “That’s the worst case scenario.”…”