On Wednesday, September 30th despite the rain and cold, a large group of dairy farmers stood united and strong against the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership).
The TPP could see the dairy industry opened up to American milk producers. 12 Pacific Rim member countries were set to meet in Atlanta to discuss the topic this week. Many different demonstrations have been taking place all over the country to show the concern that dairy farmers have.
The protest was held at the US/Canadian border in Herdman, central to the Chateauguay Valley. The dairy producers of the Haut-Saint-Laurent organized “Operation Tailgate” to call out the Canadian Government and to remind them of their commitments to the protection of supply management within the current negotiations of the TPP. Other goals of the demonstration were to remind the Canadian Government that the protection of supply management means also to enforce the already signed agreement by making sure that, the imports of dairy products are done according to the parties and rates established.
Another objective is to have the federal agencies stop the imports of the milk protein concentrates designed to bypass the established rules. And the final objective is to inform the population that the farms operating under the supply management include, 149 dairy farms, 7 poultry farms and 4 farms specializing in the production of eggs in the Haut-Saint-Laurent.
“Operation Tailgate” was pulled off in less than 48 hours and had a great turnout of 80 pickup trucks, 4 tractors and even a Holstein calf. Farmers stood on the side of the road showing their passion and their “Fort et Unis/Strong and United” signs.
When asked, “why the Herdman border crossing?” as a location for this protest, Jason Erskine replied with ease, "it's central to the Chateauguay Valley. Not only that, but at this border crossing in particular, there is a lot of transporting of milk ingredients." Milk ingredients are products run milk through a filtering process, dividing all the different components, and therefore bypassing the established laws because it is no longer considered milk.
All farmers that showed up share the exact same values. They are concerned for their future and their children’s future. We live in a strong agricultural community where there are many careers affected by this movement. As Erskine mentioned it may only be a 1% income effect, but that’s 1% taking away from the veterinarian, the nutritionist, the fuel company, the retailer and the list goes on. It doesn’t just affect the dairy farmers; it will affect the entire country.