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Trump targets Canadian trade again, focused on energy, lumber, dairy

21 April 2017

The rhetoric Donald Trump directed at Canada's dairy industry this week has its roots in a new Canadian agriculture policy that predates his time in office, one that was the subject of a pointed letter from the USA dairy lobby. Trump told reporters in the Oval Office.

While speaking in Wisconsin yesterday - the heart of dairy country in the U.S. - Trump called trade rules on dairy between the two countries a "complete and total disaster" for the U.S., saying Canada's dairy supply management system is a "one-sided deal" that doesn't let U.S. farmers compete fairly.

Ever since Donald Trump's election last fall, the Canadian government has clung to a strategy of low-drama, under-the-radar conversations about trade to keep investors calm in the choppy waters of a NAFTA renegotiation. Last year, Canada chose to favour domestic suppliers by imposing import taxes on the product coming from the U.S. Canada does not accept the contention that Canada's dairy policies are the cause of financial loss for dairy farmers in the United States.

The specific program in question is the National Ingredients Strategy, a type of pricing program that gives incentives for Canadian dairy processors that steer them away from purchasing US dairy products.

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"As politicians we're very much trained to say something and stick with it", Trudeau said in a televised interview with Bloomberg Businessweek.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said in a news release that he and other lawmakers spoke to Canadian officials on a Thursday conference call.

In his letter to the governors of Wisconsin and New York, MacNaughton argues that Canada is not responsible for the dairy industry's southward borders, based on a report by the US Department of Agriculture (United States Department of Agriculture).

"Included in there is lumber, timber and energy".

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"(Trump) has shown that if he says one thing and then hears good counter-arguments, or good reasons why he should shift his position, he will take a different position ... "That hasn't happened yet", said Schumer, who added dairy-specific actions would come by this summer.

He attached a February 17 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that he said showed the American industry's woes were the result of "U.S. and global overproduction" of milk.

David MacNaughton, Canada's ambassador to the USA, was in Fredericton Wednesday, part of a country-wide trip briefing provincial cabinets about trade issues.

Dykstra believes it's over-production of milk that's to blame, not Canada. "He is defending his domestic dairy industry", chief executive Jacques Lefebvre said in an emailed statement.

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Von Massow sees Trump's comments as an attempt to strike a better deal for the United States, while ignoring its own similar behaviours in other sectors.