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White House strikes fear in Kingston area milk farmer

Mexico and the United States excluded Canada in their recent trade agreement causing uncertainty for many Canadian milk producers.

For nearly 100 years, the Sleeth family have run a dairy farm in Battersea, Ont.

Now Ron Sleeth is worried his family farm would be decimated if Canada abandons supply management in a new free trade agreement with the U.S.

Sleeth, his son, and his grandson have bonded over milking cows for 20 years, but their time spent together in the barn may come to an abrupt ending “with the stroke of a pen.”

“It would be the end of the family farm here in Ontario and in Canada,” Sleeth said.

READ MORE: The end of NAFTA? What the U.S.-Mexico trade deal means for Canada

On Monday, Aug. 27, U.S. President Donald Trump and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto announced a trade agreement that excludes Canada.

Moments after he announced the deal with Mexico, Trump said that Canada has tariffs of almost 300 per cent on some of America’s dairy products and the U.S. will no longer stand for it.

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READ MORE: Trump announces new U.S.-Mexico trade deal, wants to eliminate NAFTA

Robert Wolfe, a former Queens University policy professor, told Global News that what the U.S. wants is free trade with dairy. Yet if Canada said, “Alright, we will give away all of our subsidies, all of our tariffs, all of our tariff barriers, but only if you do the same,” the American response would be simply, no, Wolfe explained.

The reasoning behind the pushback from both the Canadian and American governments is due to Canada’s supply management system for milk, which protects Canadian dairy producers, Wolfe said.

READ MORE: Trudeau stands firm on supply management as Trump turns up the heat on NAFTA talks

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday that he had a conversation with Trump, and said that he will only sign a deal with the U.S. if it benefits Canada and middle-class Canadians.