April 19, 2017 5:55 pm

Nova Scotia dairy farmers slam Donald Trump’s comments on industry

Nova Scotia's dairy farmers are reacting to U.S. President Donald Trump's comments on the Canadian dairy industry.

Kiichiro Sato/AP

The Dairy Farmers of Nova Scotia (DFNS) are slamming U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent comments targeting the Canadian dairy industry, saying what’s going on in the neighbouring country is not a result of Canadian policies.

READ MORE: Why did Donald Trump attack the Canadian dairy industry?

“I feel sorry for them,” said Gerrit Damsteegt, chair of the DFNS.

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“What’s happening in the United States is not caused by any immigration or border control here in Canada. The reason it’s happening is because there’s too much milk being produced in the United States, and [it’s] using Canada as a dumping ground.”

The president attacked the industry during a speech in Wisconsin on Tuesday.

“In Canada, some very unfair things have happened to our dairy farmers, and others,” said Trump, in an address to the American dairy industry.

“What’s happened to you is very unfair. It’s another very typical one-sided deal against the United States and it’s not going to be happening for very long.”

The comments were made over a trade dispute that’s been growing between the United States and Canada over dairy products: specifically ultra-filtered milk, which allows for greater efficiency in cheese-making.

Currently, American farmers are sending their ultra-filtered milk north of the border without being subject to tariffs, due to NAFTA which was approved in 1994. Canada sells the ultra-filtered milk to Canadian processors, such as Saputo Inc. at prices competitive with international rates – the move started with Ontario agreeing to sell the product at competitive prices, then other provinces followed.

The move by Canadian producers has cost U.S. farms upwards of US$150 million, according to a Washington Post report.

But Damsteegt said putting the blame on the dairy industry isn’t right.

“It’s not our fault this is happening,” Damsteegt said. “Canada has a supply management system. We’re producing the right amount of milk for the market that is needed. In the United States, or Europe, or New Zealand, they are producing more and more milk than what is needed.”

READ MORE: Donald Trump takes aim at Canada’s dairy industry

Nova Scotia’s Minister of Agriculture Keith Colwell agrees.

“Don’t oversupply and get in a situation where you’re dumping product,” Colwell said at Wednesday’s cabinet meeting. “At any time our biggest trading partner makes comments on things like supply management, especially at the president’s level, it’s a bit concerning, a bit disturbing.”

Colwell said he would be “surprised” if Trump understood the market.

“If supply management disappeared in Nova Scotia, it would shut down our dairy industry, period,” Colwell said.

With files from Kevin Nielsen, Global News, Reuters and The Canadian Press

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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