Posted October 07, 2018 08:21:03 Farmers and rancher groups are calling for an end to the $4.8 billion loan program that provides subsidies to produce and livestock producers.
The program, which was created by former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government in 2015, was launched in 2014 to help Canadian farmers and farmers’ groups meet costs of operating their businesses and to help them to diversify into new markets.
But since its inception, the program has been plagued by delays and cost overruns, and the Canadian Dairy Association says the current loan program is too limited.
The group also points to other problems that could hurt the industry.
“We’ve seen the impact of the $1.8-billion CETA (the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) on Canadian dairy, and we believe we have to step up to the plate and take action,” said Kevin McLeod, the chief executive officer of the Canadian Milk Producers and Distillers’ Association.
He said it would be unfair to keep the loan program as is if it doesn’t meet the needs of the industry, and he is calling on Ottawa to end the program, arguing that it is not being adequately funded and is only a fraction of the estimated $10 billion it is expected to cost over the next four years.
The CETA was signed in Ottawa in October 2015, and Canada signed the deal in Montreal in April 2016.
Canada’s dairy industry is the largest in the world, with about a billion tonnes of milk produced per year.
The dairy sector accounts for nearly one-quarter of all beef production in the country, and more than half of all cattle.
The government has promised to provide about $1 billion over four years in subsidies to Canadian farmers.
But so far, only $300 million has been paid out to date.
A report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released earlier this year said the total cost of subsidies is expected at $5.8bn by 2021, while some estimates have it at more than $10bn.
It said that a $400-million program for producers of fruit and vegetables is the most expensive program in the program.
“The dairy sector will need a $5 billion injection in order to continue producing and providing dairy products,” the report said.
“Canada has the highest per capita dairy consumption in the industrialized world.
There is no doubt that Canada is one of the most important producers of milk in the Western world.”
In a statement, Dairy Canada, the industry group that represents the nation’s dairy farmers, said the current program is not working and that “a $5bn injection will not solve the problems it creates for dairy farmers.”
The program is set to expire in 2021, but it could still be renewed.
The farm lobby also is calling for a fresh look at the loan programs.
“What’s going on here is not about a program that’s not working, it’s about a policy that’s failing,” said Gary Riddell, a senior fellow at the Canadian Farmers Federation, which is lobbying for changes.
“When the industry has been on the receiving end of a $4-billion loan, it doesn,t have a very clear policy agenda.
The Liberals should look at this differently.
They should be looking at how to reform the loan as opposed to trying to change it.”
McLeod also said the CETA has been a huge boon for the dairy industry.
He pointed to a report from the Centre for Agricultural Economics and Statistics, which estimated that in 2021 Canada’s total dairy industry will create about 1,000 jobs, with a projected cost of about $5-billion.
“This was a huge positive for the industry,” he said.
But the dairy lobby is also calling for better data on the program and an overhaul of the government’s program, so that it can focus on supporting dairy producers instead of subsidies to farmers.
“In this case, the current CETA program is just not working,” McLeod said.
The $4 billion program is expected provide a boost to the industry by making it more competitive.
But it also may be hurting dairy producers.
“It’s a pretty big subsidy program,” said Dave Cuddy, president of the National Milk Prods Association, a group representing dairy producers in Canada.
“You’re not getting as much as you could have been getting.”
Cuddy also said that in the dairy sector, there is a growing perception that the current system is not providing enough support to dairy producers, and that there needs to be more money put into the program to help farmers.
He also said there is too much uncertainty around what happens to farmers under the CEA, and said it is the wrong program for the country.
The Dairy Farmers of Canada also has been critical of the current government program.
Its chief executive, Bob Waller, told The Associated Press that the CFA, which represents the country’s dairy producers and distillers, is calling this “a huge disappointment.”
“It doesn’t make sense to