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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

SLIDESHOW: Chilliwack firefighters battle large blaze at Rosedale chicken barn Friday

Birds were saved but the buildings on Castleman Road were destroyed by fire

Chilliwack Fair kicks off tonight with local talent

Todd Richard and Appaloosa to hit the stage for drive-in concert at fairgrounds

PHOTOS: Moving day for 110-year-old Chilliwack heritage house

House-moving company relocated Hope River Road home to Riverside Drive

UPDATE w/ PHOTOS: Chilliwack fire crews tackle vacant house fire on Rowat Avenue Friday

Empty house was boarded up and behind fencing on lots slated for redevelopment

VIDEO: Chilliwack chicken barn destroyed by fire

Chickens saved from blaze as firefighters work to control large fire

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

FURTHER UPDATE: Body removed from Maple Ridge hotel after large police presence

A large contingent of Mounties were at the Art Infiniti Hotel Friday afternoon and evening

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

New mothers with COVID-19 should still breastfeed: Canada’s top doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam made the recommendation during World Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Collapse of Nunavut ice shelf ‘like losing a good friend:’ glaciologist

The ice shelf on the northwestern edge of Ellesmere Island has shrunk 43 per cent

Plainclothes Abbotsford police officer deletes cellphone video after drawing gun on innocent man

‘They never asked me what I was doing there, strictly came out with guns, threatening to shoot me’

CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for Aug. 7

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Most Read