Canada's dairy industry says it's not just a small 3.5 per cent of market access being given up in the new United States-Mexico-Canada trade deal (USMCA).

Last week at the Alberta Milk Dairy Conference held in Calgary, Dairy Farmers of Canada's Director of International Affairs, Yves Leduc, presented the audience with a trade update.

Leduc says, their estimate of Canadian dairy market access being granted under the USMCA is actually 3.9 per cent, and there's also more market access being given up in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the free trade deal with the European Union (CETA).

He says, this adds up on top of existing commitments under the World Trade Organization.

"We're estimating that by 2024, we'll probably see around 18 per cent of our milk and dairy product consumption being supplied through imports. Eighteen per cent is not a tiny bit."

Leduc says, the USMCA will translate into an annual loss of about $190 million in Canadian milk sales.

"The amount of milk that will be displace from the combined impact of CETA, CPTPP, and USMCA will roughly represent the milk production of 916 average Canadian dairy farms. An average farm is about 85 cows."

Compensation was also a topic addressed at the conference. Earlier this year, Federal Agriculture Minister, Lawrence MacAulay, said dairy farmers will be fully and fairly compensated.

About a month ago, the government also announced new working groups to support farmers and processors adjusting to these trade deals.

Leduc says, a lot of farmers are thinking direct payments will be the best way to compensate for losses under the USMCA.

"That's in opposition to new investment measures that could help foster investments at the farm, in part because some will tell you, these investment measures are doing no good to me, because I don't have any money to invest!"

He says, it's still unknown when the USMCA will come into effect, but the goal set out is to have the text of the agreement finalized by Friday, November 30.

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