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Feds unveil more funding for dairy, poultry and egg farmers hurt by free trade deals

Last Updated Nov 28, 2020 at 2:44 pm EDT

OTTAWA — Canadian egg and poultry farmers who’ve lost domestic market share due to two recent free trade agreements will have access to $691 million in federal cash.

Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau announced  the long-awaited funds Saturday in a virtual news conference. 

The money follows a previously announced $1.75 billion for the dairy sector linked to free trade deals with Europe and countries on the Pacific Rim.

Those funds were to flow over eight years, and the first $345 million payment was sent out last year.

But on Saturday Bibeau announced a schedule for the remaining payments that will see the money allocated over three years. 

The dairy, poultry and egg industries in Canada are regulated to ensure a steady income for farmers in that sector, but Canada’s foreign trade partners argue the system is protectionist.

That made the trio of industries a sticking point in three separate trade deals Canada has concluded in recent years — CETA, the Comprehensive and Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (CPTPP) and the Canada — United States —  Mexico Trade Agreement (CUSMA). 

Trading partners wanted more Canadian access for their products, which Canadian suppliers said would result in massive hits to their bottom line. 

The Liberals’ March 2019 budget had in turn allocated up to $3.9 billion in compensation for the trade concessions made on supply management.

The funds announced by Bibeau Saturday are linked only to CETA and the CPTPP. 

She said the government remains committed to providing full compensation for the CUSMA as well. 

Bibeau said the most recently announced funds for dairy farmers amount to an average farm of 80 cows receiving a direct payment of $38,000 in the first year. 

The money for egg and poultry farmers will go into 10-year programs, with the details still being hammered out, Bibeau said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2020.

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press

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