OTTAWA — The National Farmers Union (NFU) is urging MPs to support Bill C-216, which would make it illegal for any future trade agreement to give more foreign access to Canada’s supply-managed markets.
With Canada currently negotiating trade deals with the United Kingdom as well as Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela, the NFU and other supporters of the private member’s bill — introduced by Bloc Quebecois MP Louis Plamondon — aim to handcuff Canadian negotiators when it comes to the supply-managed dairy, egg and poultry meat sectors.
“The Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement with Europe (CETA), the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), and the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUMSA), show us why we need Bill C-216,” said Katie Ward, NFU President. “Each took a significant portion of Canada’s supply managed market away from Canadian family farmers.”
“Supply management supports Canada’s economic vitality, environmental health and social fabric. It is good policy,” said Ward. “With trade agreements negotiated behind closed doors, it is critical that our elected representatives mandate negotiators to uphold our supply management system by voting for Bill C-216 openly in Parliament.”
“We need Bill C-216 now to keep our supply-managed markets off the table,” added PEI dairy farmer, Ranald MacFarlane. “The UK and Argentina are dairy exporting nations and Brazil is the world’s largest broiler chicken exporter. It is a good bet they are eyeing our supply managed markets.”
When CETA was being negotiated, it was argued that Canada had to concede to EU demands for dairy access to get more beef and pork access to Europe. Canada already had 30,000 tonnes of annual tariff-free market access for beef and pork altogether, but had exported only 1000 tonnes of beef and 100 tonnes of pork. Canada’s CETA negotiators then gave away 17,500 tonnes of Canada’s cheese market, the equivalent of the entire Nova Scotia dairy market. Yet in 2020, Canada exported just 1550 tonnes of beef and 144 tonnes of pork to Europe.
“It is plain to see that sacrificing Canada’s supply managed markets and the livelihoods of Canadian dairy, chicken, turkey and egg farmers has not helped cattle and hog farmers one bit,” said MacFarlane. “We are all farmers. We do best when we stand together.”
Every consumer dollar spent on products imported as a result of trade agreement concessions on supply management is a dollar that leaves the Canadian economy, the NFU points out.