CETA set to dramatically alter Canada’s dairy industry

Canada’s cheese processing sector faces some dramatic changes.We’ll soon find out who gets to import tasty, inexpensive European cheese under the newly-ratified Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union.There’s some debate about how farmers and cheesemakers should be compensated under CETA. But what should matter most is to whom Ottawa will grant permission to import tariff-free European cheese. As the July 1 implementation looms, a decision on import quotas is expected soon following months of highly-politicized consultations.Canada has agreed to import 18,500 tonnes of European cheeses annually by year six of CETA. That represents two to three per cent of our domestic market. It may not seem like much but given our highly-protectionist supply management, in which Canada produces all of its own milk, CETA creates a significant breach.Since the trade deal was first signed in 2014 by the former Conservative government, the quota-based dairy sector has been anxious. Ottawa still has offered no clear plans to make the Canadian cheese sector more competitive in response to high-quality European cheese imports.

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