OTTAWA—Last month, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement looked like it was poised to collapse under the weight of opposition from a small region in Belgium—but with trouble with the Walloons now in the rearview, the Canadian government has begun funneling $350 million toward two programs designed to help the Canadian dairy industry adapt to increased competition from European producers.
“This is an opportunity for Canadian dairy producers and processors to modernize their operations and become more competitive in Canada and in international markets,” federal Trade Minister, Chrystia Freeland, said in a statement.
Under the pair of initiatives, the government will set aside $250 million over five years to support new technologies, such as robotic milkers and automated feeding systems, on dairy farms. It will also invest $100 million to help dairy processors modernize the equipment in their plants.
While announcing the funding, the government reaffirmed its commitment to supply management—a controversial quota system that helps shield the Canadian industry from international competitors. Opponents argue the system raises costs for consumers, while proponents say it promotes quality and fair prices for farmers.
Dairy Farmers of Canada applauded the Nov. 10 investment, but said the $350 million only begins to address the damage CETA will cause.
“In order to ensure the continued sustainability and viability of supply management, there is still work to be done and the government has a significant role to play,” Wally Smith, the industry group’s president, said in a statement.
The organization said it remains concerned about domestic regulations and border measures that could further encroach on the supply management system.
Though CETA has got back on track since nearly unraveling last month, it must still overcome numerous obstacles in Europe before coming into force.