Island dairy farmers fear losses under new NAFTA


Canadian dairy farmers are disappointed by provisions in the new U.S. -Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) that President Donald Trump announced Monday as a replacement for the North American Trade Agreement.

The Trump administration has been working to sign a new trade deal before Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto leaves office on December 1.

But the deal failed to resolve US tariffs on Canada's steel and aluminum exports.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faces anger from dairy farmers but told journalists Monday that the deal overall would be "profoundly beneficial for our economy" and "the most important progressive reform for North American workers in a generation".

For example, the new agreement would require 40 to 45 percent of auto components be made by workers earning the equivalent of $16 per hour, but it's unclear whether $16 would be the average or the minimum earned, or how such a measure would be enforced, Drake said.

"In this (deal), we will have a result of much more happening right here in the United States".

Just hours before a midnight deadline, the USA and Canadian governments agreed to a deal that would allow US farmers greater access to Canada's dairy market and address concerns about potential US auto tariffs, officials from both countries said.

Juan Carlos Baker, Mexico's under secretary of foreign trade, is expected to present the details of the agreement to the Mexican senate, according to the Times.

The pact also gives the US greater access to Canada's dairy market. One of the officials said the discussions between Canada and the US were ongoing, but progress was being made. Congress needs to approve the agreement, and it needs to be ratified in Mexico and Canada as well.

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"It's very good news for Canadian wheat and barley farmers and actually for all of export-dependent agriculture in Canada", said Tom Steve, the general manager of the Alberta Wheat and Barley Commission. President Trump weighed in on the name during a Monday press conference, saying, "It has a good ring to it". The provision was particularly useful for Canadian lumber companies: they've brought several cases against US softwood lumber duties, most recently in 2017.

So much American trade depends on the 1994 deal that USA financial markets were jittery about a possible collapse of negotiations - and because Mr. Trump made campaign promises to get rid of NAFTA.

The United States and Mexico had already clinched a bilateral agreement in August.

Brian Dicken, the VP for Advocacy and Public Policy with the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce says, "Given a level playing field (US auto workers) can compete with anybody on producing products we want and need". Under the USMCA, Canada is offering the USA a 3.6-per-cent share of the dairy market.

Chris Groenendijk, of the 300-acre Green Dike Farm in Westholme, near Crofton, where 150 cows are milked, said such agreements chip away at Canada's dairy sector.

New rules are created to improve U.S. auto workers' competitiveness, with 40 percent of each vehicle required to have been made by people earning at least $16 an hour.

Dias said he is not thrilled by what Canada conceded in the dairy sector, but he believes there will be a solution out of discussions between the government and the dairy lobby.

Canada also agreed to get rid of its two-year-old Class 7 pricing agreement that has restricted US exports of ultra-filtered milk used to make dairy products.

As part of any agreement, Canada looks set to offer increased access to its highly protected dairy market, as it did in separate pacts with the European Union and Pacific nations.