November, 2018 – By Alaina Lockhart, Member of Parliament for Fundy Royal
On September 30th, Canada and the United States reached an agreement to join Mexico in forming the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). North America is the world’s single largest trading zone and drives one-quarter of the global economy. This agreement ensures that Canada remains a significant part of this trading zone and provides a secure future for many businesses across Canada.
In fact, there are many businesses in Atlantic Canada who depend on the U.S. market for close to $1 billion in exports. In Fundy Royal, this means that businesses such as GE Barbour Inc. in Sussex now have the stability they need to continue their growth not only in the US but also in other markets around the world.
After the announcement of the new USMCA, I heard the concerns of dairy farmers in Fundy Royal concerning the access granted in the USMCA to the Canadian market. Over the last several weeks I have visited farms from River Glade to Sussex sitting at kitchen tables and listening so that I could understand the challenges of our local farmers. One of the best meetings was actually an impromptu roundtable with approximately 25 young dairy farmers. At that meeting I heard loud and clear the realities of uncertainty for them. As one farmer said, it feels like we are in a rocking boat and we just need to stabilize it before we can plot a route forward. I think that is a fair statement and one that I hope I can help with over the coming months.
The feedback from these conversations went much further than those walls because the realities of farm families are something I know well, from my childhood days on my Grandfather’s farm, to my involvement with 4-H, to my experience as a local business owner serving local families, to my capacity as a member of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food, I know first-hand that agriculture is not only an economic sector, but a livelihood that supports generations of families and communities like ours.
As your representative in Ottawa, I took the sentiments of all those conversations as well as my own personal experiences directly to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and I am confident that they understand the importance of our support for the dairy sector.
This week, Minister MacAulay announced the establishment of two new working groups that will include representatives from the Dairy Famers of Canada and the Dairy Processors Association of Canada, as well as regional representatives and officials from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Through this collaboration, the working groups will ensure support is appropriate for each of the supply managed sectors and that the voices of the representatives are reflected in the development of a long-term vision for the dairy sector. I am committed to continuing to be a voice for Fundy Royal throughout this process.
In conclusion, I would like to recognize that there is something very positive happening in Canada right now. It is encouraging to see the Canadian consumers recognizing the importance of not only buying local Canadian dairy products but also supporting the farmers who feed us, employ us, and buy local goods to supply their operations. These farms are the lifeblood of our rural communities and we must continue to work together to ensure their prosperity.
I look forward to continuing my conversations with dairy farmers as well as Agropur, our local dairy processor, to ensure that we do work together to ensure the prosperity of our local dairy farms and the vitality of our rural communities.
Alaina Lockhart is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Fundy Royal