B.C. dairy farmers say federal budget not enough to cut losses from USMCA

Concerns raised over vague details, funding access and impacts on growth

Shuswap dairy farmers are concerned federal funding intended to support the industry will be too difficult to access.

The federal government has earmarked $3.65 billion to help Canada’s dairy farmers whose operations have been hampered by increased competition resulting from free trade agreements.

Of the federal funding, $2.15 billion is being set aside to help farmers who have lost income due to trade deals made with countries in Europe and the Pacific Rim. An additional $1.5 billion is to compensate farmers who lose money when selling their production rights to another dairy farmer.

Nic Dewitt, who runs Dari Delite Farm in Sicamous, said on the surface the government’s measures are encouraging, but whether they will stop the long-term losses farmers are dreading is anybody’s guess.

Read More: 2019 BUDGET: Liberals promise billions for dairy, chicken farmers affected by trade deals

Read More: Sicamous farmer’s A2 milk could help those with trouble digesting dairy

“What they’re doing is they’re actually giving away future growth in our own marketplace,” Dewitt said.

“If you don’t have any growth in any business it makes things pretty tough, especially when input costs are going up and margins are getting tighter. You have to be able to capitalize on the growth side of things – that’s the issue that everybody is facing in the dairy industry as producers.”

Dewitt said fewer people are looking to buy quota to either expand or start up a dairy operation amidst the uncertainty created by the free trade agreements. The sales at a loss that part of the government funding is meant to protect farmers from could become an increasingly common reality.

John Schut, a dairy farmer from Salmon Arm, expressed concern that bureaucracy would make the funds difficult to access.

Read More: In pre-election budget, Liberals boost infrastructure cash to cities, broadband

Read More: 2019 BUDGET: Liberals promise tax credit, EI benefit to help workers retrain

Schut says he has been disappointed by the onerous effort it has taken to access funds through previous government stimulus packages. Schut knows the application process to federal funds from experience, having applied for money towards a building project on the farm.

“We accessed some of those funds on a building project. It was very time consuming to apply for those funds, it took a lot of effort,” Schut said.

Schut thinks the upgrades he was able to perform on his farm with the last round of federal funding did succeed in making his operation more competitive.

“It’s just too vague, but you come to get used to that,” Dewitt said of the federal funding announcement

“Until something actually comes into place, it’s just kind of same old, same old. It doesn’t change anything in our day-to-day struggles.”

Dewitt said even for those farms that are able to maintain some growth in the face of competition from outside Canada, the trade deals are putting a pinch on the market and the milk price.

“On a first take, it’s encouraging that they will provide that funding. I will also say it would’ve been really nice if they didn’t sell us out in the first place. Sell us out and then get the Canadian taxpayer to pay for whatever has happened to the dairy industry,” Schut said.

“We would much prefer to be self-sufficient.”


@SalmonArm
jim.elliot@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Nelson climate strike packs downtown to demand action

An inter-generational crowd staged a ‘die-in’ as part of the global strike Friday

Nelson’s Cedar Grove Estates affordable housing site to receive $3.2 million in renos

The project was made public during the Nelson CARES annual general meeting

Kootenay Lake ferry to shut down Saturday afternoon

Service to resume Sunday morning at 6:30 a.m.

Mystery illness killing Kootenay bees

Samples being sent to laboratories for analysis

Woman stabbed in downtown Nelson

Victim is in hospital, suspect is in police custody

VIDEO: Grizzly bears fight along northern B.C. highway in rare footage

Cari McGillivray posted the head-turning video, shot near Stewart, B.C., to social media

Handgun crackdown, health spending and transit plans latest campaign promises

Friday was the end of a busy week on the campaign trail

B.C. woman photographs massive ant swarm on Abbotsford driveway

She asked what the ants were doing? The answer: war

Police arrest B.C. phone scammer linked to illegal call centres in India

Person arrested in Burnaby here on a work visa, says police

Air Canada forced girl, 12, to remove hijab: civil rights group

The San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations calling for change

Man from Winnipeg who was hiking alone found dead in Banff National Park

RCMP say the man was hiking alone on Mount Temple Thursday

Takaya, B.C.’s intriguing lone wolf, seen eating seal and howling away on Discovery Island

Fun facts about Takaya the wolf, like his a 36-hour tour around Chatham, Discovery Islands

Resident finds loaded shotgun inside a duffle bag in Kelowna alleyway

RCMP seized a loaded 12-gauge shotgun, ammunition, clothing and other items

Graffiti, calls and Snapchat: RCMP probe string of threats targeting Kamloops schools

There have been nine different threats made to four different schools in the city

Most Read