Ford gets his wish for federal compensation of farmers affected by USMCA

Hours after Ontario Premier Doug Ford said called for compensation from the federal government for Ontario farmers affected by the freshly-inked NAFTA replacement deal, the federal foreign affairs minister promised support was on the way.

Chrystia Freeland says agriculture industry will receive fair compensation for possible losses up ahead

Doug Ford says the federal government should be on the hook to compensate Ontario industries for the USMCA deal. (David Donnelly/CBC)

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says farmers will receive compensation from the federal government in the freshly-inked NAFTA replacement deal, called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA.

That comes just hours after Ontario Premier Doug Ford began calling for that compensation. 

"[Farmers] need the support of the federal government," Ford said on Monday morning at Queen's Park. 

The new USMCA deal would give American farmers greater access to Canada's dairy industry — a sticking point during negotiations that generated ire from farmers and premiers alike.

Significantly, it would dismantle Canada's "Class 7" dairy ingredient pricing strategy, which prices Canadian skim milk low to remove the incentive for dairy processors to use American products.

"I've got a knot in the pit of my stomach," said Caledon, Ont. dairy farmer Peter Armstrong about the loss of Class 7, explaining that he expected it to take a huge slice out of the dairy market.  

Prior to Freeland's statement, Ontario Trade Minister Jim Wilson was fiery, telling the house that "you're darn right we're going to hold the federal government's feet to the fire."

"It's not the Ontario taxpayer that should foot the bill for a federally negotiated agreement," Wilson continued.

Canada had also worked to secure an exemption from steel and aluminum tariffs, but it became clear the Trump administration wasn't budging easily.

Though a source told CBC that Canada's still hoping for those duties to be gone by the time the deal is signed, Ford said Monday that the federal government should "support" those industries as well, along with the Ontario auto industry.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with provincial and territorial premiers this morning.