P.E.I dairy farmers afraid for their farms because of trade agreement

Colin MacLean
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Dairy farmers and their supporters gathered in front of Gail Shea's office in Summerside. 

There are concerns Canada may allow greater imports of liquid milk from the U.S.

John Green suspects he may be seeing history repeat itself.

Green grew up on a dairy farm in the United Kingdom, but moved to and started farming on Prince Edward Island several years ago. His farm is in Springfield.

He was one of about 200 people, mostly dairy farmers, who gathered in front of Conservative Egmont MP Gail Shea’s campaign office on Water Street in Summerside Wednesday. They were there at the invitation of the Dairy Farmers of P.E.I., to voice their support for the Canadian dairy industry and to oppose what they see as a threat in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free-trade agreement currently under negotiation by a variety of Pacific Rim nations, including Canada.

There are concerns Canada may allow greater imports of liquid milk from the U.S. in exchange for concessions in other areas. The specter of losing Canadian milk supply management has also been raised.

 “I’m kind of seeing it all happen again, what my father had to deal with, and it all seems to be rolling ahead through Canada now,” said Green.

“It’s very concerning.”

There was scarcely a person in the crowd who didn’t share Green’s worry.

Nova Scotia natives Sarah Pollard and Will Blaauwendraat are a young couple who just last year purchased a dairy farm in Foxley River.

As new farm owners, they have a tremendous debt load right now, they said, and the prospect of losing the stable income that supply management provides terrifies them.

“If the plug is pulled on this and supply management is done, then our future as dairy farmers will be done too. We carry debt and we need our milk cheques to pay it,” said Pollard.

But while the crowd was generally worrisome about the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Conservative government’s negotiations at that table, they were not belligerent to Shea.

She was invited to speak to defend her government and even took questions from the crowd.  

She denied any suggestion that Canada’s supply management system is on the table at the pacific free-trade negotiations. She added that if there is an increase in the amount of foreign liquid milk into the Canadian market as part of the deal, then Canadian farmers may be compensated, similarly to what happened with the European Free Trade Agreement that opened Canada to more European Union cheese exports.

“Dairy farmers here can take some comfort in that their government...has said it will uphold supply management,” said Shea.

Jim Bradley, CEO of P.E.I.’s Amalgamated Dairies Ltd., spoke out in support of the status quo and thanked the farmers for their support of their industry.

“I’m really impressed by the size of the crowd here today,” he said.

“I think it’s an indication of how serious farmers take this issue.

“This uncertainty is really causing (farmers) to think hard about their future in the industry.”

As for Green, he left not having heard much to ease his fears.


Geographic location: Summerside, Prince Edward Island, Pacific Rim

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page



Recent comments

    October 01, 2015 - 10:43

    I believe most Canadians are like me and prefer local produce especially milk . If not local then at the very least CANADIAN ! By the way " Billy " I am a lobster fisherman and cannot afford vacations but I am willing to pay more for a Canadian product , even though under the Conservatives our standards are slipping on food inspection ...NOT the fault of the farmer . I would be willing to pay more again if I was certain the farmer would actually receive that money .

  • Billy
    October 01, 2015 - 06:06

    Fear of the unknown is the fear here. Why are the lieberals stirring up this fear during an election. If, If this trade deal goes through and milk prices or any prices drop that's good for all. Truduh would probably reverse the deal should he get the nod. Where are the lobster fishermen on this Or are they all in Florida already celebrating there high prices.

    • Dairy Farmer
      October 01, 2015 - 09:49

      This fear of TPP is not a fear of the unknown, other countries in the world have dismantled supply managed systems and now their producers are protesting to their governments for subsidies to offset the low world price caused by oversupply. All producers in Canada are asking for is our Federal govt to protect an industry that is working and not trade away our futures. The stated position of the Federal government is that if market access is given to the Americans we will be compensated. We don't want compensation, we want our domestic market protected and at the very least if Americans gain access, why in the world wouldn't Canadian Farmers not be getting equal access to their markets. Hope this helps you understand the issue Billy, as for your swipe at the lobster fisherman, i'll leave that up to them to comment.

  • WHY
    September 30, 2015 - 20:53

    We are paying more for milk per litre then Gas. Sure I am going to run right out and protest to keep higher prices.

  • Laurent Beaulieu
    September 30, 2015 - 20:47

    This agreement TPP is very complex and Canada is not in a position of strength. PM Harper should not be completing this agreement during an Election as it is contrary to our Parliamentary principle. Canada will have to give away all of the protectionist policies on Dairy products if Canada is on board, Dairy Farmers will loose big time and not compensation will ever cover their lost. A very sad day for us all. Harper wants to sign on quickly to boast during the campaign but at what cost to us all.

  • john E red mud
    September 30, 2015 - 19:32

    Must be the liberals stirring up a frenzy it take much to get farmers stirred up.why not put you hoods onand lynch some one

  • Bob MacDonald
    September 30, 2015 - 19:19

    These guys are the reason there is hardly any cheese on your nachos. They keep the price artificially high for everyone.

  • voter
    September 30, 2015 - 19:07

    It is obvious that some people do not know the matter of this trade agreement, but should notice that the dairy farmer are not asking it not be signed, but just that their financial interest be considered. I thought that was very decent of them, and I thought Gail Shea did a decent job of explaining the fine line to follow in these agreement with so many countries involved .

  • Garth Staples
    September 30, 2015 - 14:29

    Do they know what is in the agreement?

    • Harper hates Us?
      September 30, 2015 - 18:02

      I don't understand what the federal conservatives are doing. This will hurt so many dairy farmers and also the automotive industry. I guess Gail Shea and Harper just don't care about us.

  • Honest John
    September 30, 2015 - 14:10

    Harper's trade deal will wipe out the dairy industry in Canada. Of course, he and his Reformer candidates like Shea will tell you otherwise.

  • Rod
    September 30, 2015 - 13:58

    It would be very helpful if our federal government and other levels of government would stop this mad pace to open up our country to the continuing importing of goods that are only cheaper because of being produced by cheap labour and processes elsewhere. I thought governmental policies were to help us economically not to make things worse.

  • wade Mason
    September 30, 2015 - 13:43

    I wonder did Gail come out and talk to the farmers or did she do as she always did in Ottawa leave the room and hide

    • Mrs. Farmer
      September 30, 2015 - 19:10

      @wade Mason Gail did come out and address us. I paraphrase: the government will do what is in the best interest of Canada as a whole. If they give in, they will provide some sort of compensation. I was not reassured. When gov't starts using words like 'best interest' and 'compensation' I can't help but fear the worst. Thank you Honest John & Rod for your support. Very very much appreciated!

    • Done Deal
      September 30, 2015 - 20:38

      @Mrs Farmer . Harper is on record as saying there will be NO compensation for the ending of dairy quotas . Harper said the money farmers received for having quotas over the years was enough compensation as that kept the price of milk up for that period of time and they all benefited from that . NO COMPENSATION . Google it and see what you get .This news is a year old or more .

    • Garth Staples
      October 01, 2015 - 03:10

      Done deal ----your comments are beyond the pale.

    • @Garth
      October 01, 2015 - 08:38

      This was printed in a National newspaper just last year . I thought you were up on the world news , maybe just a short memory .