Girl pouring milk into glass.
April 14, 2017

Will President Trump Act in Dairy Dispute With Canada?

 |  By: Dairy Talk

The dairy trade dispute with Canada took a serious and ominous turn last week when trade groups and at least one Governor urged President Donald Trump to intervene.

Given Canadian intransigence, it has to come to this. It seems only a call from President Trump to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau can resolve this issue. In two weeks, the Canadian border will be closed to U.S. ultra-filtered milk products and dozens of Wisconsin and Minnesota dairy farmers will be left without a market for their milk.

The problem became a crisis in the Midwest when Grassland Dairy announced it is shutting off about 75 of its patrons May 1. Though a handful of those farmers have reportedly found new processors, the vast majority may have to sell their herds because dairy plants across the Midwest are full and are not accepting any new patrons.

The National Milk Producers Federation, the International Dairy Foods Association and the U.S. Dairy Export Council have been working on this issue for months. But they have not gained any traction either with U.S. politicians or the Canadian government until they could put a face to the crisis with individual farm families threatened with liquidation.

Here’s what the dairy groups want, and what rightly must happen: 

• President Trump should contact Prime Minister Trudeau to request that this Class 7 program be halted and that ultra-filtered milk imports from the United States be restored.

• Direct U.S. agencies to examine the full range of tools that could be used immediately to impress upon Canada in a concrete way the importance of dependable two-way trade.

• Make opening Canadian dairy market access and addressing the chronic use of non-tariff tools to thwart trade a key and early-stage priority in NAFTA discussions.

The groups also asked that if Canada refuses to act, the Trump Administration should bring the issues before the World Trade Organization. Say the organizations:  “Canada’s actions are in direct violation of its trade commitments to the United States, and Canada must be held accountable for this.”

This seems like a crisis fit for Donald Trump. The issue is clear cut with few nuances. He can act decisively with one phone call, and show U.S. trade partners must honor trade commitments and trade agreements. Will he do it?