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Trudeau defends Canada's dairy system against Trump protectionist charge

21 April 2017

He said the USA now enjoys a $400-million dairy surplus with Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended Canada's dairy industry Thursday, insisting that any conversation Canada has on the file with the United States must be based on "facts".

"Let's not pretend that we're in a global free market when it comes to agriculture", Trudeau said.

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Trump was echoing and amplifying the complaints of Wisconsin and NY governors, who say Canada's decision to create a new lower-priced, classification of milk product has frozen USA producers out of the Canadian market.

"Every country protects for good reason its agricultural industries". We have a supply management system that works very well here in Canada.

"Canada, what they've done to our dairy farm workers, is a disgrace". Trump's comments were the second time this week he has attacked Canada's dairy industry and on Thursday he included the lumber, timber and energy sectors in a list of what he said were problematic areas of trade. Trump suggested Thursday he would have more details to share within a couple of weeks about his government's plans for the North American Free Trade Agreement.

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The threat to get rid of or alter NAFTA has clouded the economic outlook for Canada, whose biggest trade partner is the United States. "Rules, regulations, different things have changed".

The "terrible" plight of American dairy farmers has captured the attention of USA politicians of all stripes as the US sector grapples with the twin difficulties of overproduction and low global prices for milk. Trudeau said he would not "overreact" and planned to move the trade conversation forward "in a way that both protects our consumers and our agricultural producers".

Trudeau said one of the challenges in crafting policies to rein in soaring house prices is a "dearth of data", as was the case in Vancouver a year ago.

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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.