Canadian envoy downplaying talk of potential trade rift with the US

Judith Bessette
Abril 21, 2017

Other countries have taken runs at Canada's sacrosanct supply-management system in previous trade negotiations, and Trump appeared to be taking dead aim during his appearance Tuesday in the U.S. Midwest - in a state he took from the Democrats with his "America First" anti-trade message.

Trump spoke out against Canada on Tuesday in a way he's not done before, saying Canada has been "very, very unfair" to dairy farmers and "we're going to start working on that".

While supply management of dairy ensures Canadians get enough milk products through a quota process, albeit at higher prices, it keeps dairy farmers happy, rich, and largely politically benign through limiting any competitive American dairy products from entering our country via the imposition of high import tariffs.

"Because the American system is a free market system, the dairy farm that was producing that product doesn't need that milk anymore", Mullin said. Dairy farmers have already been crippled by years of stagnating milk prices, and one Central New York milk producer - Cayuga Milk Ingredients - has said it could lose 25 percent of its sales after investing more than $100 million in an ultra-filtered milk processing plant.

Canada's ambassador to Washington said Tuesday night that President Donald Trump is wrong when he says Canada's trade practices in the dairy industry are "very unfair". In New York, one of the companies that would be affected is Cayuga Milk Ingredients in Aurelius.

"We're going to get together and we're going to call Canada and we're going to say what happened, and they might give us an answer - but we're going to get a solution, not just the answer".

"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. "It's your own responsibility, as a country, to manage your production", a spokesperson for Dairy Farmers of Canada told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel last week. This week, he reiterated his desire to negotiate or eliminate NAFTA, the agreement forming a bilateral trade bloc between the US, Mexico, and Canada.

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At the same time, Mr. Trump has largely avoided confrontations with Mexico since quarreling with President Enrique Peña Nieto over who would pay for a border wall, a spat that led to a canceled visit. All this will put tremendous pressure on Justin Trudeau and his government to act while also having to contend with Canada's powerful dairy lobby.

"We don't feel good about USA farms going out of business". Suddenly, he's tweaking Canada's nose - twice in a week, with his second twist even more forceful than the first.

The President told his audience Canada had been "very unfair" to US dairy farmers.

Lucas Sjostrom, executive director of the Minnesota Milk Producers Association, said Wednesday that 19 Minnesota producers are among the 70 to 75 initially reported as all being from Wisconsin.

Canada is not the problem for USA dairy producers and will stick with its system of protectionist dairy quotas, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says.

"It's absurd for the Canadian government to assert there is no relationship between its new Class 7 policy and the lost US milk sales there", said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the Virginia-based National Milk Producers Federation.

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.

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