Wisconsin, New York governors ask Trump for help on milk

Toby Manning
April 21, 2017

After a meeting Wednesday with the Nova Scotia cabinet, MacNaughton said upcoming negotiations around revamping NAFTA won't be easy, but the process will work out "just fine" in the end.

"We're running at full capacity", he said.

Trump's latest comments were more extensive than his complaints earlier this week in Wisconsin about Canadian dairy regulations.

Monica and Dave Roskopf say they are thankful but not more optimistic about their future as dairy farmers after President Donald Trump took their side in a dispute with Canada this week.

"We're going to have to get to the negotiating table with Canada very, very quickly", he added.

But MacNaughton said there is too much at stake to let anything interfere with trade between the two countries.

Dairy farms throughout NY state rely heavily on exporting this product, and they are faced with millions of dollars in losses each year.

Trump also reiterated his threat to eliminate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico if it can not be changed. A judgment against Canada could result in a fresh set of tariffs applied to lumber imports from Canada. Several of New York's elected officials, including U.S. Sen.

On dairy, he offered a scintilla of detail. "No regulations have changed in terms of USA milk coming into Canada", Smith said.

"I'm sure we'll hear lots about dairy and we'll hear lots about other things and I'm sure there will be a lot of things that we will want to talk to them about, too", he said.

The trade dispute is affecting dairy farmers in northern USA border states, such as Wisconsin, New York and Minnesota, and prompted Trump to announce that his administration will propose changes to NAFTA in two weeks. "We'll be tweaking it", Trump opined in mid-February.

Trudeau spoke Thursday in Toronto during an interview with Bloomberg Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait.

Asked about Trump's remarks earlier in the week about dairy, Trudeau acknowledged the likelihood that the message from the White House might occasionally switch from one day to the next.

"(Trump is) a little bit unlike many politicians", the prime minister said, acknowledging the magnitude of his understatement amid laughter from the crowd.

"Ultimately governors and people in the states recognize the importance of our relationship and that it's two-way, and we are going to continue to build on that", McNeil said.

"I don't think farmers have anything to worry about", he says.

Canada has ample reasons to engage. Dubbed "Buy American and Hire American", the directive follows a series of recent Trump reversals on economic policies.

On Thursday, Wisconsin lawmakers held a conference call with Canadian government and agricultural representatives to discuss the crisis, although it appears little was resolved.

Ironically, one of Trump's guests in his office for the signing ceremony was the head of the United Steelworkers union - Leo Gerard, a Canadian, from Sudbury, Ont. Between 1971 and 2012, the number of dairy farms in Canada declined by 91 per cent, according to a report written by former Liberal MP Martha Hall Findlay for the University of Calgary's school of public policy.

The Canadian government responded with a statement from Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland.

Last April, the Canadian province of Ontario implemented a new milk-pricing policy that imposes import taxes on ultra-filtered milk, a liquid protein concentrate used to make cheese.

But Canadian agriculture leaders say they have a right to enact domestic-minded policies, especially as USA farmers flood worldwide markets with excess milk.

"It is part of the government of Canada's strategy to make arguments and make friends", he said.

They argued, quite effectively, that if Canadians were free to import their dairy from the United States, the average Canadian household would save $438 a year — a significant amount of savings for those straddling the poverty line.

Other reports by VgToday

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