By Tom Collins
CARDINAL — One of the newest board members of the Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO) says ensuring dairy farmers are compensated properly for the new NAFTA deal will help alleviate some of the frustrations farmers are feeling.
John Wynands, who milks 240 cows in a 30-stall rotary parlour at Cardinal with his wife Dawn and children Ryan and Mark, was elected to the DFO board of directors on Nov. 13. He will begin a four-year term in January, replacing incumbent Henry Oosterhof, representing zone 3 (Frontenac, Grenville, Lanark, Leeds and Renfrew).
He said farmers are frustrated after the Canadian dairy industry lost 3.9 per cent market access to the Americans and an agreement to end Class 6 and 7 milk in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
“Some of that is the feeling the government threw us under the bus,” he said.
Wynands, 56, said part of the issue is the lack of details. Not only has the Canadian government not released the text of the deal, details regarding compensation for dairy farmers also haven’t been announced.
When the government gave Canadian dairy farmers almost $120 million after giving up concessions in the Canada-European Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) deal, many farmers bristled. Many complained that the application system filled up within a few hours. It took longer than anticipated to dole out the money, and it went only to farmers that had made, or were planning to make, upgrades to their operations. Farmers who weren’t upgrading weren’t eligible for any money.
“That was done poorly,” said Wynands, who has been an elected delegate with co-op Gay Lea Foods for 12 years and on the board of directors with CanWest DHI for eight years. “Hopefully, the government listens to DFO and gets better direction on how to distribute those (funds). All the producers are going to be hurt by this trade deal, so all producers have to be compensated.”