Commentary submitted by the Beef Farmers of Ontario, Ontario Pork and Veal Farmers of Ontario
As politicians on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border shout to either protest or protect the future of supply management, Ontario’s livestock farmers not protected by quotas are sounding the alarm. We are the ones already paying a heavy price for U.S. President Trump’s global trade wars.
Lost in the media coverage and political decision-making surrounding NAFTA trade negotiations is the fact that Ontario’s pork, beef and veal farmers are in the midst of a growing crisis. While not a direct target, Ontario’s livestock farmers are collateral damage in President Trump’s trade wars.
President Trump’s trade wars threaten the livelihood of our livestock farmers, particularly:
· the disruption of U.S. beef and pork exports to China and Mexico caused by escalating tariffs;
· the enormous drop in North American livestock prices caused by that disruption; and
· President Trump’s decision to grant American farmers a massive $12 billion (USD) aid package. Which puts our farmers at a substantial disadvantage as they try to compete on both sides of the border.
Financial losses are adding up for local farmers. Over the past six weeks, Ontario pork farmers alone have suffered weekly losses in the millions of dollars. The numbers for Ontario’s beef farmers are equally staggering and Ontario’s veal farmers are not far behind. Simple math tells you that Ontario’s livestock farmers will be hard-pressed to continue to supply locally grown food to Ontarians when they are losing over $40 per hog and more than $300 per head of cattle sold. Very soon Ontario livestock farmers will be forced to decide whether they are willing to hold out for an end to these political storms or if they will need to walk away from the family farm for good.
Sadly, even if a new NAFTA deal is signed today, the damage has already been done. Weeks of losses have created a fiscal hole so large that many of our farmers will not be able to get out of it without huge sacrifice. Our challenges won’t end there. A NAFTA deal also does not solve the turmoil brought on by the U.S.-China trade dispute and the uneven playing field created when President Trump handed our American competitors billions of dollars in aid.
We will be sharing these concerns directly with Premier Ford and Minister Hardeman at the International Plowing Match this week. We will call on both the provincial and the federal governments to work with us on an urgent basis to help Ontario’s livestock farmers. Farmers who are trying to survive this growing crisis.