Trudeau Earmarks Billions for Farmers After Trade Concessions

(Bloomberg) -- Canada’s government is setting aside funding for certain agriculture sectors after opening the country’s protected market in a series of recent trade talks.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s budget, unveiled Tuesday in Ottawa, announced funding for dairy, poultry and egg farmers operating under its system of quotas and tariffs, known as supply management.

It announced up to C$2.15 billion ($1.6 billion) for farmers “to deal with income losses” associated with trade deals with the EU and Pacific Rim nations. It also set aside C$1.5 billion more to guarantee the value of production rights, known as quota, in the event that value declines as a result of the deals. That money will be paid out only in the event any quota is sold.

“We will make available an income protection program for supply-managed farmers, along with a measure to protect the value of quota investments these farmers have already made,” Finance Minister Bill Morneau said in his budget speech.

More money could follow -- Canada gave up a sliver of its protected market in trade talks last year with the U.S. and Mexico, angering farmers. The government will work with farmers to address “potential future impacts” of that trade deal, which still requires ratification, the budget said. Canada’s dairy system was a key irritant in those trade talks.

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