CETA deal worrying Island cheese makers

As Canada and the European Union near the homestretch of negotiations in a mammoth trade deal, some cheese makers on Prince Edward Island worry about what a flood of foreign cheese could mean for business.

Stephen Harper is expected to release final details in two weeks

Dairy farmers and some cheese makers in Canada are concerned about CETA because thousands of tonnes more of European cheese, including Britain's famous cheddar, will be allowed in Canada under this deal. (Courtesy MLT DWN)

As Canada and the European Union near the homestretch of negotiations in a mammoth trade deal, some cheese makers on Prince Edward Island worry about what a flood of foreign cheese could mean for business.

In less than two weeks Prime Minister Stephen Harper is expected to release the final details of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

The two sides signed a tentative deal in October in an effort to open up markets and drop nearly all import taxes on everything from food to cars to metal and forestry products. 

"I think overall it's probably not good for the Canadian cheese industry,” said Prince Edward Island cheese maker Jeff McCourt.

The Glasgow Glen Farm owner doled out cubes of cheese at the Great Island Grilled Cheese Challenge on Sunday.

Amid the taste testing there was a cloud of concern. 

The deal opens up the market to more competition. Under the new agreement, European cheese makers will be allowed to sell Canada 29,000 tonnes of cheese, more than double the current quota.

Dairy Farmers of Canada cheese expert Phil Belanger wouldn't speak specifically on the impact of CETA, but says it's important Canadians know what local options are out there.

"There are the local ones that are produced here on the Island. There's some fantastic cheese made in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, even in Newfoundland now," he said.

Last October Harper said the government will provide compensation to Canadian cheese producers to address any adverse effects.

Cheese maker Jeff McCourt said he'll believe that when he sees it.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.