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Federal Agriculture Minister deals with dairy farmers protest at P.E.I. infrastructure announcement


POOLES CORNER, P.E.I. - Federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay was shouted down in his own riding Friday by more than 100 furious dairy farmers.

The dairy farmers showed up at Kaylee Hall for an announcement MacAulay was making about money for road improvements in rural P.E.I., but no one heard much of what he said during his actual speech.

As MacAulay was reading from prepared notes, he was constantly drowned out by the voices of angry dairy farmers who are not happy with the United States-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) free trade agreement.

What Canada gave up in the deal was the opening of an additional 3.59 per cent of the national dairy industry to American imports and a tweaking of the rules around Class 7 dairy products, like skim milk powder, in favour of the U.S. industry.

Related: Dairy still in distress, despite new USMCA, says P.E.I. MP Wayne Easter

Doctor said they hoped to convince MacAulay not to vote in favour of the USMCA.Deanna Doctor, who runs a milk producing farm with her father and helped organize Friday’s protest, said they decided to show up in big numbers to show MacAulay how they feel.

“I mean, we’re not even allowed to export anymore,’’ she said. “If you look at the fine print, we cannot export without the U.S. signing off on that. How insane is that? This is our country; this is our milk; why is (U.S. President) Donald Trump deciding what is going to be in our grocery store, what is going to be on your family’s dinner table?’’

“I mean, we’re not even allowed to export anymore,’’ she said. “If you look at the fine print, we cannot export without the U.S. signing off on that. How insane is that? This is our country; this is our milk; why is (U.S. President) Donald Trump deciding what is going to be in our grocery store, what is going to be on your family’s dinner table?’’
-Deanna Doctor

Doctor doesn’t buy the government’s argument that it was the best deal they could get, noting that no deal would have been better than the USMCA.

Deanna Doctor was one of the dairy farmers who helped organized a protest against the recent free trade deal at Lawrence MacAulay’s infrastructure announcement in Pooles Corner on Friday. Doctor was hoping the protest would convince MacAulay not to vote in favour of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). -Dave Stewart
Deanna Doctor was one of the dairy farmers who helped organized a protest against the recent free trade deal at Lawrence MacAulay’s infrastructure announcement in Pooles Corner on Friday. Doctor was hoping the protest would convince MacAulay not to vote in favour of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). -Dave Stewart

MacAulay said he met with the Dairy Farmers of P.E.I. organization on Friday prior to his announcement in Pooles Corner. At that time he told them the plan is to put together a compensation package for producers.

“They had a loss, and that’s why it’s so important that we work together,’’ MacAulay told the media over the shouts of protesters. “I met with the Dairy Farmers of P.E.I. today and what we’re going to do is sit down and put an appropriate package together to make sure the industry remains stable for the long term.’’

Dewar MacLeod, who operates Shadow Hill Farms, doesn’t want to hear about it.

“We don’t want compensation,’’ he told The Guardian bluntly. “We want a sustainable industry, one we can raise ourselves without taxpayers paying money for it. They haven’t yet, and we don’t intend on having them start. We’re losing money every day. Every trade deal they make we lose more money.’’

Poll: How should P.E.I.’s four MPs vote on the new USMCA trade agreement?

Bloyce Thompson, another dairy farmer, said the 165 dairy farms on the Island have been hit bad again.

“It’s almost too much to bear,’’ Thompson said. “It’s affecting our incomes and our livelihoods, and we’re here to protect the family farm. Our markets are being taken away by the American product. It’s (a) cheaper, less superior product that’s coming and it’s going to affect our bottom line.’’

Despite repeated calls from the protesters on Friday to vote against the deal, MacAulay said he won’t be voting no.

“I can understand, truly, how they feel being a dairy farmer myself, but I can tell you $2 billion a day (of trade crosses) the border. We cannot have that stop. (They) had to pay a price and that’s unfortunate. I am fully aware it's not easy.’’

Twitter.com/DveStewart

A P.E.I. dairy farmer, left, voices his displeasure with federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay over the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). More than 100 dairy farmers showed up at MacAulay’s infrastructure announcement in Pooles Corner Friday to protest the trade deal. -Dave Stewart
A P.E.I. dairy farmer, left, voices his displeasure with federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay over the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). More than 100 dairy farmers showed up at MacAulay’s infrastructure announcement in Pooles Corner Friday to protest the trade deal. -Dave Stewart

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