Canadian PM responds to Trump's criticism of dairy industry


24 April, 2017

Reading from handwritten notes during an Oval Office signing for an unrelated memorandum, Trump called Canada's actions a "disgrace" and said the Canadian measures have hurt dairy farmers in Wisconsin and NY.

Canada changed its policy on pricing domestic milk to cover more dairy ingredients, leading to lower prices for Canadian products including ultra-filtered milk that compete with US milk.

Of course, blasting Canada's dairy industry also means wrangling with its unflappable prime minister, and Justin Trudeau has already dismissed Trump's fighting words.

Trump said on Thursday "what they've done to our dairy farm workers is a disgrace".

The Canadian government protects its dairy industry through import tariffs and other measures, and dairy farmers in Canada have recently slashed some of their prices to undercut United States dairy farmers.

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Canadian dairy farmers defend our country's supply management system, saying it produces the highest quality milk in the world while keeping family farms in business.

Canada exported about $113 million worth of milk to the US a year ago but imported $557 million, meaning a dairy dispute would hurt the USA more than Canada.

"We're going to have to get to the negotiating table with Canada very, very quickly", Trump said.

Trump also took the opportunity to slam NAFTA, the free trade deal linking the US, Mexico and Canada, calling it a "disaster for our country". What his anger fails to reflect, however, is that the United States has a significant and widening dairy trade surplus with Canada, reaching almost $450 million in 2016 from just $85 million a decade earlier, according to Statistics Canada. He and Trudeau on Friday were keen to display their support for free trade and open borders, including the Canada-EU free trade pact, amid growing populist opposition.

"The United States president's opinions are perfectly legitimate", the Italian leader said through a translator.

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