CETA has been a hot topic this week, in the news, in social media, and if you’re a farmer, around the kitchen table. In broad strokes Canadian dairy farmers and artisan cheese makers took a serious hit. However Canadian pork, beef and bison producers will benefit from increased quota access to the EU.
I can’t say I’ve formed an opinion yet about CETA as thus far it has been difficult finding open and factual yet unbiased discussion about its contents. It will take time to digest and understand its contents, and even more time to appreciate its real impacts. I do trust the hard working professionals at the Fédération des producteurs de lait du Québec and Dairy Farmers of Canada when they say this will impact my bottom line as a dairy farmer.
I don’t work in a community vacuum. I know that this deal may bring concrete benefits to other sectors in my region and right across this country. I am particularly pleased to see there was good news for the beef sector; cattle producers have had a hard struggle since mad cow, it’s nice to recognize that we may have finally climbed out of that valley.
I am however seriously concerned for our Canadian artisan cheese makers. They face losing considerable market share to a flood of cheap Euro imports. This comes at a time when our Canadian artisan cheesemakers are coming into their own. I bet not many Canadians are aware that a Canadian cheese, “Lankaaster” (made by Glengarry Cheesemaking in Lancaster ON) just won top honours as “Supreme Global Champion” at the annual Global Cheese Awards.
I do have a clear opinion on one score however, and that the offensive and repugnant reactions of the anti Canadian dairy crusaders Andrew Coyne, Martha Hall Findlay and their minions. How an ECONOMIST can rejoice at news that farmers and business will be hurt financially, defies logic, and human decency. Andrew Coyne’s unbridled glee at finally having more access to cheap European cheese was also punctuated with a renewed battle cry against supply management.
May I suggest to Andrew Coyne, and all others whose priority in life is their personal access to cheap European cheese rather than the continued health of our own dairy industry, that you are very welcome to move to Europe and buy all the cheese you want. Everyday. You don’t get to dismantle lives and businesses just to serve your own selfish, and frankly petty desires. Nor do you hold some golden key of wisdom about the realities of the dairy industry that somehow eludes every Canadian dairy farmer who are surrounded in their operational realities everyday. You are fond of pointing out our seclusion in our “foxholes”. I suppose this is how you explain to yourself that you are somehow so much more informed about our industry than the people who actually work and make a living in it. 7 days a week. Often for multiple generations. That’s not to mention the hard working professionals at DFC, the FPLQ and all of the other provincial boards.
So do me a favor and fill your boots with cheap European cheese. You have your heart’s desire, just know that you have had it at the personal expense of many farmers and cheesemaking entrepreneurs, who can little afford it.