USMCA A Bad Deal For Eastern Ontario, Says Dairy Board Member

The USMCA is a bad deal for dairy farmers, says their representative in Leeds-Grenville.

Henry Oosterhof is a family dairy farmer in North Augusta, and is an elected member on the Dairy Farmers of Ontario board.

He says the opening up the market to US producers will mean companies at home can't be profitable.

"This morning I visited a farm with a young mother holding her young two-year-old doing chores and the father coming off a tractor with the four-year-old and they're trying to make ends meet," says Oosterhof. "And they're going to have a hard time to plan for one of these children if they want to farm if it's just not profitable."

Dairy producers say the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which increases American access to 3.59 per cent of the dairy market, deals another blow to the future of their industry.

American dairy producers are heavily subsidized and can make their product cheaper.

He says this is the third trade deal that's given a hit to Canadian producers, and now foreign dairy represents a chunk of the market.

Oosterhof says New York, Michigan and Illinois state farmers make more milk than all of Canada, and they want access to our market.

He says he'll be watching closely to see the compensation the federal government will provide, because farmers will need it.

"This is a few thousand dollars every month for the rest of our life because of that," he says Oosterhoff. "How can they compensate for that? It's immeasurable."

Oosterhof says it can be difficult to spot local dairy products because there's not always a label, but he encourages residents to look for the blue milk or a Canadian label when buying milk. He hopes concerned residents will contact their local politicians to voice their concerns about the deal.