Schumer backs Trump in dairy trade dispute with Canada

Schumer backs Trump in dairy trade dispute with Canada

Earlier Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he will continue to protect Canada's agriculture producers - including its supply management system for dairy - as he tries to engage with the USA administration on a variety of trade irritants.

Gov. Scott Walker sent a letter Tuesday to Trump calling for federal action on Canada's "protectionist" policies.

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said he will stand beside the dairy farmers of Quebec against Donald Trump's criticism of trade agreements with Canada.

Last April, the Canadian province of Ontario implemented a new milk-pricing policy that imposes import taxes on ultra-filtered milk, a liquid protein concentrate used to make cheese.

"Rules, regulations, different things have changed - and our farmers in Wisconsin and New York State are being put out of business".

"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.

Trump on Tuesday complained about what he said were unfair practices by Canadian dairy farmers. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand of NY, and U.S. Sen.

"It may be true we have a dairy trade surplus with Canada, but it's not true for overall trade", he said.

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

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.

Trump's vow comes as global dairy prices are rebounding after two years of declines amid abundant supplies.

David Weins, who heads the Dairy Farmers of Manitoba, says the Canadian industry can't be held responsible for issues that are American in origin. He called them a "disgrace" to US farm workers.

"If at some point the Americans want to have a discussion on subsidies in agriculture, well we have a few on their side we could point to", he said.

"Dairy is a very small part of the total trade with Canada, there's an terrible lot more that happens even within agriculture than just dairy", said Mark Stephenson, director of Dairy Policy Analysis at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The U.S. says it's raised concerns about the policy change.

The surprise tongue-lashing represents some of the new administration strongest anti-Canada rhetoric thus far, and a significant departure from the relatively warm reception Prime Minister Justin Trudeau received on his first meeting with Trump in the US capitol. The first is Canada's supply-management system for dairy and poultry products. He said Canada imports 6.3 percent of its cheese, 10 percent of its butter and 10 percent of its milk powders from the U.S, while the USA imports 3 percent of its cheese, 3 percent of its butter and 8 percent of its milk powders from Canada.

USA dairy groups appealed to Trump for help after Canada recently introduced a new policy that gives Canadian producers an incentive to buy domestic supplies of ultra-filtered milk, a concentrated ingredient used to boost protein content in cheese and yogurt.

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