Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has met U.S. President Donald Trump’s pointed criticism of Canada’s dairy industry with calm counterarguments in defence of how Canada prefers to manage its milk.
“Let’s not pretend that we’re in a global free market when it comes to agriculture,” he told Bloomberg News editor in chief John Micklethwait during a question and answer session in Toronto Thursday.
“Every country protects for good reason its agricultural industries. We have a supply management system that works very well here in Canada. The Americans and other countries choose to subsidize to the tunes of hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions of dollars, their agriculture industries, including their dairy,” the prime minister said.
“Different countries have different approaches, and we’re going to engage in a thoughtful, fact-based conversation on how to move forward in a way that both protects our consumers and our agricultural producers,” he said.
Trudeau’s comments were, in the words of his interviewer, his first chance to react to the “constructive dialogue” started by Trump Tuesday, when he used a speech in Wisconsin to attack the unfairness of recent pricing changes for dairy ingredients in Canada that make American imports less competitive.
The “terrible” plight of American dairy farmers has captured the attention of U.S. politicians of all stripes as the U.S. sector grapples with the twin difficulties of overproduction and low global prices for milk.
“How certain governors are speaking to certain constituencies on that, it’s politics,” Trudeau said. “At the same time, the U.S. has a $400-million dairy surplus with Canada. So it’s not Canada that is the challenge here.”
Broadens attack to include lumber
Trump’s jabs at Canada continued Thursday as the media was invited to watch him sign another memorandum on trade in the Oval Office.
“I wasn’t going to do this,” he told reporters as he changed topics away from the foreign steel investigation he was meant to be discussing.
“Canada … what they’ve done to our dairy farm workers is a disgrace. It’s a disgrace,” he said. “Rules, regulations, different things have changed, and our farmers in Wisconsin and New York state are being put out of business.”
I welcome Pres Trump’s opposition to Canada’s unfair dairy trade barriers. Will fight w him to help NY farmers & reverse this unwise policy.
But Trump didn’t stop there, also raising “what’s happening along our northern border states with Canada, having to do with lumber and timber.”
The U.S. president’s remarks come ahead of a U.S. Department of Commerce decision expected early next week on levying countervailing duties against Canadian softwood lumber imports.
On Wednesday, a NAFTA review panel ruled against the U.S. in a separate case over duties against Canadian mills producing…