American Dairy Organizations frustrated by Canadian trade policies

By Stewart Grant

At the same time that President Trump is looking to revisit existing international trade deals and push protectionist measures with an “America First” philosophy, U.S. dairy organizations are asking both Washington and state governors for help in pressuring Canada to allow more American milk products to cross the northern border.

A January 30th letter signed by 17 U.S. dairy organizations and sent to 25 state governors spoke of the perceived injustice suffered by American farmers, who have reportedly lost tens of millions in exports due to Canada’s supply management system and associated trade policies. The letter to governors followed a January 11th letter from the group to President Trump that charged that Canada’s protectionist policies in regards to the dairy industry were in direct violation of the country’s trade commitments under NAFTA and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

An excerpt from the letter to state governors read as follows: “We write to you regarding a serious trade concern with a country that should be our most reliable trading partner: Canada. Reports now indicate that despite numerous U.S. exhortations to Canada that it should abide by its dairy trade commitments to us, Canada plans to proceed with expanding its harmful use of dairy policies to impede trade by implementing a new national ingredients strategy pricing program. We urge you to prepare to take direct action at the state level to underscore to Canada that deliberately and systematically damaging U.S. exports in this way will not be tolerated.”

According to the U.S. dairy organizations’ letter, beginning on February 1st Canada will expand a program piloted in Ontario that discouraged Canadian companies from using imported U.S. ultra-filtered milk in the production of Canadian dairy products.

From a Canadian perspective, the thought of us promoting the use of Canadian milk within our own dairy products per this February 1st directive doesn’t sound like a bad thing. Given recent political activity south of the border, the Americans should be more sympathetic if occasionally we take a “Canada First” mentality, at least with regards to our dairy industry.

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