Published: Fri, April 21, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Trump attacks supply management for dairy

Trump attacks supply management for dairy

Canada's envoy to Washington has shot back at criticism by President Donald Trump and US milk producers, saying the facts don't support a charge that the Canadian dairy industry is to blame for the woes of some American farmers.

The president took issue with Canadian changes on milk classification that he said have put farmers in Wisconsin and NY state out of business. Trump promised to work with Wisconsin's congressional delegation to get a solution after the governors of Wisconsin and NY urged him to take action. "We're going to have to get to the negotiating table with Canada very, very quickly".

The governors of Wisconsin and NY are urging President Donald Trump to address what they are calling Canada's "blatant violation of worldwide trade agreements" hurting dairy farmers in the two states.

"U.S. dairy exports support approximately 110,000 jobs across America, many of which are in farming and food manufacturing, as well as in supporting rural manufacturing and skilled farm service workers", the organizations said in the letter.

The current system limits the amount of dairy and poultry Canada can import before a tariff kicks in. As many as 70 dairy farms could lose $50 million in sales if Canada's trade policies remain in place. "Our government looks forward to sitting down with the United States. NAFTA has been very, very bad for our country", Trump said.

Earlier this week, Trump blamed Canadian dairy policy for driving American farmers out of work, and he ratcheted up his anti-Canadian invective Thursday from the Oval Office by calling Canada's actions a "disgrace".

Trump also criticized the US trading regime, which calls for a waiting period, and consultations that can stretch to three months or beyond.

The work would start immediately, Trump said.

"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".

The National Milk Producers Federation and U.S. Dairy Export Council traveled to Mexico City in March to meet with Mexican dairy leaders to reinforce its commitment to continue working with that country.

If just 1, 2 or 3 percent of the exports were to come back to the United States, "we would see a significant drop on overall prices", he said.

Senior finance officials who briefed reporters on the meetings suggest the order would run counter to protections Canada has secured through NAFTA.

Mullins Cheese owner Bill Mullins told the journal his business is at capacity, "but we're going a little over board".

Mullins said his company usually has to compete for new milk contracts, so taking on the extra milk is worth it in the short term.

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