Sunday, February 7, 2016

Secret ministerial promise to dairy farmers

I have picked up relatively reliable rumours that federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAuley is prepared to violate World Trade Organization rules to impose tariffs on milk protein isolates, sometimes called diafiltered milk, and to change the composition standards for cheeses.

He apparently told a meeting of dairy farmers, one from which the public and reporters were barred, about his plans.

Having learned from Canada's complaints about Country of Origin Labeling regulations in the United States how long it can take to get to a final decision from the World Trade Organization, MacAuley is apparently willing to use the process to enable Canadian dairy farmers to continue charging tariff-protected prices for all milk and dairy products.

Canada has already lost the international community's goodwill over supply management; this tactic is likely make them even angrier and will make ongoing negotiations for free trade with the European Union and the TransPacific Partnership more contentious.

By refusing to bend,  the dairy farmers are taking a risk that some day their entire system will break.