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

Clarinetist brings classic Christmas tunes to Chilliwack Library

Jack Kopstein was the musical entertainment for Christmas in the Stacks at the Chilliwack Library

DFO responds to ‘state of emergency’ call from First Nations

‘Our shared goal is to fully restore the sustainable, natural fish passage at the site’: DFO

Chilliwack RCMP offer tips to avoid holiday thefts

Neighbours watching out for neighbours can help avoid stolen parcels

A surprise under the mistletoe at Christmas in Williams Park

New addition to annual Langley light show records first marriage proposal

Chilliwack named as one of the most generous cities in Canada on GoFundMe

Chilliwack took the number-two spot while Kamloops was at the top of the list

VIDEO: Octopus, bald eagle battle after bird ‘bites off more than it can chew’ in B.C. waters

B.C. crew films fight between the two feisty animals in Quatsino off north Vancouver Island

Raptors fans show Kawhi the love in his return to Toronto

Leonard receives championship ring, leads new club to win

Process to identify those killed in Gabriola plane crash could take days

Canadian flight museum suggests Alex Bahlsen of Mill Bay died in Tuesday’s crash

Snowfall warning issued for Coquihalla Highway

Up to 25 cm of snow is expected to fall in the region by Thursday

‘Honest mistake:’ RCMP says B.C. cannabis shop can keep image of infamous Mountie

Sam Steele wearing military, not RCMP uniform in image depicted in Jimmy’s Cannabis window

B.C. conservation officers put down fawn blinded by pellet gun on Vancouver Island

Young deer found near construction site in Hammond Bay area in Nanaimo, B.C.

Laid-off forest workers converge on B.C. legislature

Loggers call for action on strike, provincial stumpage

B.C. guide fined $2K in first conviction under new federal whale protection laws

Scott Babcock found guilty of approaching a North Pacific humpback whale at less than 100 metres

Feds urge Air Canada to fix booking problems as travel season approaches

The airline introduced the new reservation system more than three weeks ago

Most Read