On Oct. 20, Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) held a virtual press conference to voice their concern at the lack of action by the Trudeau government on its oft-repeated commitment to compensate dairy farmers for the impact of three successive trade deals: the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the Canada-U.S.-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA).

DFC President Pierre Lampron and Vice-President David Wiens jointly addressed the media to remind the federal government that while the effects of these trade deals are being felt on farms, farmers are still waiting for the compensation they were promised.

“By 2024, as a result of trade concessions, some 18 percent of our domestic milk production will be outsourced to dairy farmers in other countries at a time when Canadians are more aware than ever of the importance of ensuring our own food security,” Lampron said. “By not following through on its commitment, the government is undermining its own dairy sector, which seems counterintuitive.”

“When a dairy farmer makes a commitment, his or her word is gold,” Lampron said. “We hold our federal government to the same standard – a promise made should be a promise kept.”

Prime Minister Trudeau responded by reiterating his government’s commitment once again, but offered no new specifics.


The commitment to compensation for CETA and CPTPP dates back to 2018, and an announcement of $1.75 billion in compensation to be paid out over eight years was made in the 2019 budget. While the first installment was paid out last winter, there have been no developments on the balance, nor on the promise of “full and fair” compensation for CUSMA.

Trudeau, Deputy Prime Minister Freeland and Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Bibeau have all agreed on the need to compensate dairy farmers for these trade deals, and the commitment was repeated in this year’s Speech from the Throne when the government noted that “Farmers keep our families fed, and we will continue to help them succeed and grow.” The need for a strong and vibrant domestic dairy sector is especially important in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has demonstrated that in a time of crisis, we can no longer count on our biggest trading partner for food.

The press conference was the latest effort to bring greater attention to the government’s inaction on these promises. In July, a motion passed at DFC’s annual general meeting, with overwhelming support, calling on Trudeau to give information on its compensation plans. Throughout the summer, DFC representatives met with government officials and members of Parliament from all parties and sent correspondence to the prime minister and opposition leaders to raise awareness.

DFC is also working closely with all provincial dairy organizations to increase pressure on elected officials at the grass-roots level. We are asking farmers to help amplify the message by bringing it directly to their MPs. Help make them aware of the importance of obtaining this compensation and ask that the federal government honours its commitments to compensate dairy producers for recent trade negotiations. DFC has prepared materials to help dairy producers discuss the subject of compensation with their MP either in person or in writing. The materials can be downloaded from DFC’s DairyExpress+ app, available on the App Store and on Google Play.

Dairy producers can also take action by emailing their MP through DFC’s website. Participating is simple: Just enter your name, your mailing address and your email and click on the “Send” button. Get started here: Dairy Farmers of Canada.

DFC’s letter to Trudeau is available here: Farmers remind Trudeau government that a promise made is a promise to be kept.

Founded in 1934, Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) is the national organization which defends the interests of Canadian dairy farmers and strives to create favourable conditions for the Canadian dairy industry. Working in accordance with supply management principles, DFC promotes safe, high quality, sustainable and nutritious Canadian dairy products made from 100% Canadian milk through various marketing, nutrition, policy and lobbying initiatives. Driven by a strong sense of community and pride, DFC and Canadian dairy farmers actively support a number of local and national activities. Visit Dairy Farmers of Canada for more information.