U.S. President Donald Trump’s harsh words for the Canadian dairy industry are creating concern among Saskatchewan farmers and policy makers.
Trump toured a Wisconsin factory on Tuesday, touting his “Buy American-Hire American” executive order and calling out the Canadian dairy industry by name.
“In Canada, some very unfair things have happened to our dairy farmers and others,” Trump said, making reference to an ongoing dispute over ultra-filtered milk, which is used to make cheese.
The problem stems from growing demand for products made from the butterfat portion of milk, while other milk parts haven’t see a comparable increase in demand, said Albert Leyenhorst, who has a dairy farm in the Dalmeny, Sask., area.
“If only one part of the market grows, that creates a problem in the other side of the market,” Leyenhorst said.
Milk is now oversupplied on the global market.
Last year, Canadian provinces began selling ultra-filtered milk to the country’s producers at a more competitive price than their American counterparts.
“It’s concerning when the president of your major trading partner is concerned that you’ve done something that’s wrong – something that’s unfair,” Leyenhorst said.
However, Canada isn’t responsible for the glut of milk on the global market, said Joy Smith, manager of policy and communications with SaskMilk.
Canada employs supply management to match milk production with domestic demand. When needed, all farmers can scale back milk output, instead of overproducing milk.
“There has been no new import taxes. No regulations have changed in terms of U.S. milk coming into Canada,” Smith said.
Saskatchewan has more than 160 dairy farms, with more than 2,500 jobs and contributes over $260 million to the province’s GDP, she said.
“When there’s trade discussions we’re always concerned and watching what’s happening,” Smith said.
“We’re not worried, though. We hear loud and clear from the federal government that they support supply management. They recognize what a good system it is.”
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