Local dairy farmers unimpressed with Trump’s attack on supply management

Kelsey Smith
Nelson Zandbergen
Nation Valley News

EASTERN ONTARIO — U.S. President Donald Trump has railed against Canada’s supply-managed dairy sector, describing it as a “disgrace” to his country. The former reality TV star’s stance prompted a quick response from local dairy farmers this week.

“I don’t think it’s right and fair for Grassland and Trump to blame us for their issues going on with their over production problems,” said Chris Ryan, a Casselman-area dairy farmer who recently installed a sign in front of his farm saying, “#effoffTrump.”

“Threatening us isn’t going to help them solve their issues. We understand that there are farmers in Wisconsin that might be losing their livelihoods. And we feel for them, but this is why our system works for us. This is what we want our consumers to realize as well.”

In Ormond, another dairy farmer, Ian Porteous, also weighed in on the matter. “Grassland Dairy needed a scapegoat so it was easier to just blame us, than to actually blame themselves.

“The actual facts are that there has been no change to any regulations affecting imports or border controls between the US and Canada. End of the day. It was political grandstanding. I was glad to see our US ambassador address the issue so quickly.”

Yesterday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vouched for the Canadian Supply Management System. “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,” he told Bloomberg News editor in chief John Micklethwait during a question and answer session in Toronto.

“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 in a quote also picked up by CBC.

Grassland Dairy recently stopped buying from 75 American milk producers after the Wisconsin-based processor lost a contract to supply “ultra-filtered” milk to a firm north of the border. The loss came after Canada’s regulated dairy system created a more competitive pricing regime on some domestically produced milk.  President Trump latched onto that grievance during a bombastic speech in the U.S. dairy state on Tuesday this week and amped up his rhetoric about Canada’s “disgraceful” treatment of U.S. dairy farmers in Washington yesterday.

This article has been edited to insert contextual information about Grassland Dairy.

 


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