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Canada adds extra C$691 million to agriculture sector, cuts timeline for dairy farmers' aid

Gerald Pulver, owner of Goreland Farms, inspects milk beside pregnant dairy cows a day after Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government would offer an additional C$5 billion ($3.4 billion) line of credit for farmers and agricultural producers to help them through the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis, in Carrying Place, Ontario, Canada March 24, 2020. REUTERS/Alex Filipe

(Reuters) - Canada’s government said on Saturday it will pump an additional C$691 million ($531.87 million) to support the country’s dairy, poultry and egg farmers, and also reduced the timeline for payment promised to dairy farmers last year.

Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said the government slashed its initial eight-year schedule and will deliver the remaining C$1.405 billion from a total of C$1.75 billion promised in August 2019, directly to farmers in only three years.

The package for dairy farmers also build on a $250 million CETA on-farm investment program, Bibeau said in a statement here.

The Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), the free trade agreement between Canada and the European Union, sets out the removal of tariffs on 99% of all goods types traded between the EU and Canada, some over a period of up to seven years.

The government’s compensation payments recognize business dairy and poultry farmers have lost out after trade pacts were struck with the European Union and Pacific nations.

Bibeau last year promised that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government will make no further dairy market-access concessions in other trade negotiations. (bit.ly/2VfvS6I)

Dairy Farmers of Canada President Pierre Lampron welcomed the compensation plan.

Lampron said the latest move will place the dairy farmer group in a better position to compete with increased imports of dairy products made from foreign milk.

($1 = 1.2992 Canadian dollars)

Reporting by Maria Ponnezhath in Bengaluru; Editing by Alistair Bell

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