Canadian dairy farmers have taken to the streets in protest at trade arrangements which have seen them flooded with imports of dried milk protein concentrate from the US.
The protest, organised by Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC), involved 3,000 dairy producers who gathered for a rally on Parliament Hill, Ottawa, as well as outside the Prince Edward Island office of the minister for agriculture.
DFC president Wally Smith called on the government to take action to ensure a robust dairy sector in the country.
He acknowledged the situation in Canada was significantly better than in other parts of the world where supply management mechanisms have been dismantled.
But he said the Canadian dairy industry was facing a number of challenges that need to be addressed by the government.
In particular, the dairy industry wants to see measures taken to address the problem of diafiltered milk, which crosses into Canada tariff-free because it is not even classed as a dairy product.
Some cheese processors have taken to using the substance as part of their required minimum percentage of “milk” when making cheese, instead of using it as part of their allowable percentage of added ingredients.
— Susana Mas (@susanamas) June 2, 2016
— CFA (@CFAFCA) June 2, 2016
There is also huge concern about the impact of the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement which has opened up Canada to an additional 17,700t/year of cheese from the EU.
The government has promised a compensation package as this deal amounts to an annual loss of between $110m-$150m/year (£58m-£80m/year) in revenues and market share for Canadian dairy farmers.
— James Dybka (@JamesDybka) June 2, 2016
— Leslie Johnson (@cl_johnson) June 2, 2016
A statement from the Candian government said it was looking for long-term, sustainable solutions to the challenges facing the industry.
“Our goal is to improve the position of Canadian dairy farmers, help modernise the Canadian dairy industry, and ensure this critical Canadian industry can continue to grow and thrive in an ever-changing global economy.
“We must ensure we arrive at the best possible outcomes which address the challenges and opportunities facing the Canadian dairy industry in a way that will pave the way forward for not only today’s dairy farmers, but their children and grandchildren.”