Maritime dairy farmers say they've been sacrificed

News of the new trade agreement is weighing heavy on those in the Maritime dairy farming industry.

Farmers fear they are being sacrificed by the government to get a deal that protects other industries.

The chairman of the New Brunswick dairy farmer says he woke up Monday morning with a pit in his stomach.

“Any of us that have invested in new barns to meet the needs of the Canadian consumer are not going to be able to fill those barns because the market is gone,” says Paul Gaunce.

Maritime dairy farmers are expressing disappointment in the new deal Ottawa reached with the U.S. and Mexico and they say this isn't the first time they've taken a big hit.

“We lost two per cent access in the CETA deal, and we lost three and a quarter per cent access in the TransPacific Partnership,” Gaunce said.

Jerry Bos and his wife Kaitlyn are first generation dairy farmers. They're not sure what this means for the future of their farm, but they're pretty sure Americans gaining more access to the Maritime dairy industry will mean a financial hit.

“With supply management, I can't exactly sell my milk internationally,” Bos said. “Domestic market only, for the most part, and it's going to mean I have a smaller paycheque at the end of the day.”

And for Gaunce with each new deal the uncertainty grows.

Gaunce says even after 38 years of being a dairy farmer, this deal is now making him rethink his lifestyle.

Dairy farmers across the Maritimes say the trade agreement will not only limit their exports, but that the quality of milk produced in the U.S. just isn't comparable to what is produced in Canada because of our higher standards.

“We need to produce milk with no anti-biotics,” said Nick Bokma. “It is quality, wholesome milk to the highest degree when we produce our milk and that's not the same across the border.”

The Dairy Farmers of Canada say they failed to see how the trade deal would be good for the 22,000 Canadian families that depend on dairy for their livelihood.

Dairy farmers say this new deal will mean extra out of pocket expenses, but until more details come to light, it is too early to put an exact dollar figure on just how much money they may lose.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kate Walker.