5,000 farmers marched through the streets of downtown Montreal on Sunday, calling on both the government and public to support local food producers.

The demonstration came six weeks after the United States – Mexico – Canada Agreement (USMCA) was announced.

Many of the attendees came from rural Quebec to Montreal specifically to have their voices heard.

“Farmers are stewards of the land,” said Julie Miller, who left her sheep farm in the Eastern Townships. “We care for animals, for the land, for the air, for the water. We produce food, which is such an important element of being a human being.”   

Many of the farmers felt that the new agreement would have negative effects on the Canadian agriculture industry.

“I feel like we’ve just been used as a trade mark,” said Johan Van Hyfte, a dairy farmer from Henryville, 65 km southeast of Montreal.

“We didn’t win anything. We lost everything.”

Ottawa has promised that Canada’s dairy farmers, half of whom are in Quebec, will be compensated.

Still, unions aren’t optimistic.

“It’s hard to believe,” said Marcel Groleau, president of the Union of Agriculture Producers. “We want the imported products to meet Canadian and Quebec standards. The farmers also want the public to know where the food they eat every day comes from."

Miller wants the public to also think of where the money they spend on food ends up. 

“When you’re eating that local apple, when you’re eating that local hamburger, drinking that milk from here, you’re doing so much more than feeding yourself and feeding your family,” said Miller.

“You’re feeding another family who raises that food.”