Published: Fri, April 21, 2017
Economy | By Annette Adams

Walker: White House must deal with Canada's dairy policies

Walker: White House must deal with Canada's dairy policies

The U.S. now enjoys a $400-million dairy surplus with Canada, "so it's not Canada that is a challenge here", he said Thursday in a question-and-answer session with Bloomberg television. "Canada, what they've done to our dairy farm workers is a disgrace, it's a disgrace".

"We're going to call Canada and we're going to say 'What happened?' We're going to get the solution", he said before turning his attention to the North American Free Trade Agreement that's the source of at least some of the U.S. "Included in there is lumber, timber and energy".

"When it comes to wasteful destructive job killing regulations, we are going to use a tool you know very well - it's called the sledgehammer", Trump said.

"I am disappointed that the representatives of the Canadian government have not demonstrated the sense of urgency that we in Wisconsin feel about the crisis impacting so many of our local dairy farms", Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said in a statement afterward, adding that he was encouraged that a dialogue had at least been opened with Canada. The pricing agreement was a response to growing US exports of milk proteins that were not subject to Canada's high tariffs.

He said he expects three-way talks on the trade agreement, but said there would be a number of ongoing bilateral talks on issues that affect Canada and the US, but not Mexico.

The U.S. dairy industry views that Canadian milk pricing scheme to be an unfair trade practice - one that this week caught Trump's attention. Canadians have rebuked those claims, arguing the United States produces too much milk in a global market already saturated with it.

The Laughing Cow, known to Quebecers as La Vache qui Rit, has been "proudly produced" in the Quebec town of Saint-Nicolas Que. since 2007, and is therefore a typical product in Trump's sights. "However, saner heads may prevail because these three economies-Mexico, Canada and the US -are so intertwined in terms of the supply chain that it would be very, very costly to the tear up NAFTA".

At about the same time that the President was taking aim at Canada today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told Bloomberg in an interview that the side with a surplus in dairy trade is the US, not Canada.

She says dismantling the current supply management system would be a boon to all concerned - even though there might be some short-term pain for some in the sector, who she says, could be compensated for any losses deemed a direct outcome the new economic reality.

Mr Trump has long voiced concerns about US-Canadian trade.

Trump continued by contending, "The fact is, NAFTA - whether it's Mexico or Canada - is a disaster for our country".

While Canada and the USA enjoy the world's largest bilateral trading relationship, with roughly $2 billion in goods and services crossing the border each day, disputes do boil over.

He did not address Trump's comments directly and avoided questions about whether they signal the onset of a cross-border trade war.

It has no plans to change course, no matter how hard the US president tries to rock the boat. Decisions are also expected in the coming weeks on duties on Canadian lumber, another instalment of a once-a-decade feud between Canadian and American lumber producers.

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.

Indeed, Canada's softwood industry makes no secret of its own search for opportunities in China. "I think it's going to work out just fine". "I actually talk to unhappy farmers all the time - one of them is my dad, although he's not a dairy farmer", Freeland said.

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