Trump vows to back U.S. dairy farmers in Canada trade spat

Canada/U.S. dairy trade described as 'one-sided deal'

Trump
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks April 18 at Snap-on Tools' headquarters in Kenosha, Wisconsin. (Video screengrab from Whitehouse.gov)

Reuters — U.S. President Donald Trump promised on Tuesday to defend U.S. dairy farmers who have been hurt by Canada’s protectionist trade practices, during a visit to the cheese-making state of Wisconsin.

Canada’s dairy sector is protected by high tariffs on imported products and controls on domestic production as a means of supporting prices that farmers receive. It is frequently criticized by other dairy-producing countries.

“We’re also going to stand up for our dairy farmers,” Trump said in Kenosha, Wisconsin. “Because in Canada some very unfair things have happened to our dairy farmers and others.”

Trump did not go into detail about his concerns, but promised his administration would call the Canadian government led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and demand an explanation.

“It’s another typical one-sided deal against the United States and it’s not going to be happening for long,” Trump said.

Trump also reiterated his threat to eliminate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico if it cannot be changed.

Canada’s dairy farmers agreed last year to sell milk ingredients used for cheese-making to Canadian processors, who include Saputo and Parmalat Canada, at prices competitive with international rates. The pricing agreement was a response to growing U.S. exports of milk proteins to Canada that missed Canada’s high tariffs.

Industry groups in New Zealand, Australia, the European Union, Mexico and the U.S. complained that the new prices for Canadian milk ingredients undercut their exports to Canada.

“President Trump’s reaction is not surprising. He is defending his domestic dairy industry,” said Jacques Lefebvre, CEO of Dairy Processors Association of Canada. “We believe that further communications with the Canadian government will broaden his perspective.”

In a statement, the Dairy Farmers of Canada industry group said it is confident that the Canadian government will “continue to protect and defend” the country’s dairy industry.

Representatives for Canada’s trade and agriculture ministers could not be immediately reached.

Heritage Minister Melanie Joly, speaking to CTV, said about the dispute that “any form of restriction (on) trade will hurt workers on both sides of the border.”

Reporting for Reuters by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg; additional reporting for Reuters by Steve Holland in Kenosha, Ayesha Rascoe in Washington and David Ljunggren in Ottawa.

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  • don krueg

    Why does Canada ave such high tariffs on imported products? If products are same, no tariffs should exist. Maybe they can’t compete fairly???

    • NicholasDerosa

      But the US subsidizes their diary industry? Maybe they can’t compete fairly?

  • Kelly Dundas

    Anyone who thinks Canadian dairy farms and processors can compete with the heavily subsidised American dairy industry is delusional. Without some kind of protection for the Canadian dairy industry, we will be forced to rely on a foreign power for one of our most basic foodstuffs. Any country stupid enough to give up self sufficiency in any basic foodstuff deserves to be a vassal of the country by which it is then fed.

COPA Medallion COPA finalist in 2012, 2014 and 2015.
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