If American dairy producers are upset with new ingredient strategies north of the border, Canada’s federal government hasn’t heard about it — at least not through official channels.
Speaking at a conference in Winnipeg last week, Canada’s Agriculture and Agri-Food minister said he isn’t aware of protectionist concerns coming out of the U.S. and that the federal government remains committed to supply management.
“What I do as minister is deal with issues as they come forward and there has been no action taken yet, and you deal with issues as they come forward,” said Minister Lawrence MacAulay. “I’ve stated many times, I think our supply management system is a model for the world and our government strongly supports our supply management system, but the new ingredient strategy was put together by the dairy farmers and manufacturers and that is their prerogative.”
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While provinces like Manitoba and Ontario have already implemented a new class of milk to encourage production of dairy ingredients like skim milk powder, attempts to implement a national ingredients strategy have not been successful to date.
A deadline of Feb. 1 had been set by the Canadian dairy industry to implement a lower-priced class of milk known as Class 7, but that deadline was not met.
Even so, a widely circulated letter from the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, the U.S. Dairy Export Council, National Milk Producers Federation and the International Dairy Foods Association calls on U.S. President Donald Trump to target Canada’s dairy sector for so-called protectionism.
“The entire U.S. dairy industry is being hurt, as milk prices are being driven down nationally by Canada’s trade actions,” the letter reads.
MacAulay said recent meetings between Canadian and U.S. officials, including a meeting between Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, shows that trade continues to be an important factor in bilateral relations and that that recognition will inform discussions around any issues that arise.
“They are our biggest trading partner, we are great friends, we have $2 billion a day going over the border,” he said. “It’s obvious that both sides realize that trade is vitally important for the economy of both countries and I would feel and hope it’s straight ahead, just more business… more dollars for the Canadian and American economy.”