Republicans Trump, Ryan join Democrat Schumer to press Canada on milk trade

Owen Stevens
April 21, 2017

Earlier Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he will continue to protect Canada's agriculture producers - including its supply management system for dairy - as he tries to engage with the US administration on a variety of trade irritants.

As Donald Trump added softwood lumber to his anti-Canada trade rhetoric Thursday, Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne was on his way to China with an entourage of industry representatives looking for an alternative to the USA market.

Trump's commitment came Tuesday after Grassland Dairy Products dropped dozens of Wisconsin farmers after losing sales to Canada. The Canadian government and provincial governments across the country have either adopted or proposed pricing rules that could affect US exports of ultra-filtered, or diafiltered, milk.

Michael von Massow, a food economics expert at University of Guelph, says it is the market forces of the worldwide dairy industry, not Canadian policy, that are driving hard-working USA farmers out of business.

"When customers in Canada, who have been purchasing milk products from American suppliers for years, suddenly decide to switch to domestic suppliers after Canada implements a major change in milk pricing, it is abundantly clear that the lost business incurred by USA farmers is directly tied to Canada's milk pricing system", Mulhern said.

In statements, Trump said the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) "has been very, very bad for our country; it's been very, very bad for our companies and for our workers, and we're going to make some very big changes, or we are going to get rid of NAFTA for once and for all".

President Donald Trump has promised action on Canadian dairy policies he says are unfair to Wisconsin farmers.

New York Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, and Wisconsin Sen. And we have a supply management system that works very well here in Canada.

"We know that dairy producers in the U.S are going through tough times; however, incorrectly laying the blame on an unrelated Canadian domestic policy will not improve their situation".

Lumber has been a trade irritant between the two nations for generations, so it's little surprise it would be singled out by Trump.

"We've had a tough time on softwood lumber for 30 years". Suddenly, he's tweaking Canada's nose - twice in a week, with his second twist even more forceful than the first.

Tensions have continued to rise between farmers and politicians in the United States and Canada since Grassland in Greenwood, Wisconsin, blamed the Canadian policy change for forcing them to cut ties with dairy farmers earlier this month. The U.S. says it's raised concerns about the policy change.

"Our (Conservative) government always stood up for the farmers and we'll see if this effort by the (Liberal) government to. keep good relations with the Americans, whether it protects our farmers", added Brown.

The governors of Wisconsin and NY said in a letter to Mr. Trump this week that a recent move by Canada closed off the Canadian market for USA -produced ultra-filtered milk, which is used for cheese-making. US dairy groups say the issue will hurt the entire USA dairy industry.

Justin Trudeau, Prime minister of Canada, is anxious about Trump's protectionist talk as for him relationship with crucial. has reached out to dairy producers and organizations in Canada and the United States for more input on President Trump's comments. He prefaced them by saying, "I wasn't going to do this", then launched into complaints about Canadian dairy, wood, and energy and its impact on the U.S.

Other reports by VgToday

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