The Canadian government has announced an investment of $350m (€238m) for two new programmes to support the competitiveness of the country’s dairy sector, in anticipation of the entry into force of the Canada–European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

A Dairy Farm Investment Programme will see $250m invested over five years which is to provide targeted contributions to help Canadian dairy farmers update farm technologies and systems and improve productivity through upgrades to their equipment.

This could include the adoption of robotic milkers, automated feeding systems, and herd management tools, the Canadian government has said.

Furthermore, a Dairy Processing Investment Fund will see $100m invested over four years which is tohelp dairy processors modernise their operations and, in turn, improve efficiency and productivity, as well as diversify their products to pursue new market opportunities.

It is envisaged that the CETA deal may well result in EU dairy companies securing market outlets equivalent to 2% of Canada’s milk production.

This equates to 17,700t of cheese that will no longer be produced in Canada. Or put another way, this is equivalent to the entire yearly production of the province of Nova Scotia, and will cost Canadian dairy farmers up to $116m (€79m) a year in perpetual lost revenues.

Canada is home to 1.4m dairy cows, producing some 8 billion litres of milk annually.  Net dairy farm receipts totalled just over $6 billion (€4 billion) in 2015. Milk production is the third largest agri sector in Canada behind cereals/oilseeds and redmeat.

Canada’s minister for agriculture Lawrence MacAulay said dairy producers and processors are vital to the prosperity and clean growth of the nation, adding:

“They create jobs and offer high-quality products for Canadian consumers. These programs will help Canada’s dairy sector become more productive in order to help it adapt to the anticipated impacts from CETA.”