Local Alberta dairy farmers not concerned over Trump’s attacks on industry

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Source: St Albert Gazette

Over the past month U.S. President Donald Trump has been attacking the Canadian dairy industry, calling it “very unfair” to U.S. dairy farms.

His comments on the controversial issue have spurred the federal government to publicly defend the Canadian dairy industry, but local dairy famers say they’re not concerned.

“On one hand you end up a little surprised that he singles us out,” says Jeff Nonay, owner of Lakeside Dairies Ltd. in Sturgeon County. “But on the other hand I think the world is getting used to President Trump rabble-rousing.”

“It’s not like we weren’t working on these issues before Trump’s comments and I think we’re going to continue working on them for a long while yet.”

Trade disputes between Canada and the U.S. have been growing since Canadian dairies started producing ultra-filtered milk – a product used for cheese making – and selling the product at a competitive price.

Last year a number of Canadian dairy processors stopped buying tariff-free ultra-filtered milk from the States and started buying it in Canada.

A report from The Washington Post said the move to Canadian dairies has cost the U.S. farms over US$150 million.

Tom Kampjes, owner of Kampjes Farms in Sturgeon County, says the main issue isn’t with ultra-filtered milk, it’s with the milk market.

U.S. dairy farms are “putting too much milk on the market,” he says. “They don’t have any system to stop them from producing so much milk.”

Canadian dairy farms operate using a supply management system, which means each farm is given a quota to fill for how much milk to produce. If the world milk market is overflowing, the quota is lowered.

This prevents overproduction of milk into the world market and protects Canadian dairy farms from producing too much milk with nowhere to sell it.

In contrast, the U.S. does not have a system to control how much milk is being produced. When the market is overflowing, U.S. farms keep producing.

“Canada would be in the exact same boat if we didn’t have supply management,” Kampjes says. “It protects the consumer and it protects the producer.”

Nonay says supply management has always been a target.

“It’s nothing new for us,” he says. “This particular issue has been growing over the last decade.”

Trump condemned Canadian dairy farms after Grassland Dairy Products in Wisconsin told at least 70 farms that they were cancelling their contracts May 1, due to losing millions of dollars in business when Canadian dairy farms began producing ultra-filtered milk.

Michael Cooper, MP for St. Albert-Edmonton, visited the St. Albert Gazette on April 26. He said he felt supply management should be reassessed.

“We need to look carefully at supply management,” he said. “There are some benefits to supply management, including helping to protect family farms, but obviously this is being used as a trump card by President Trump on other issues that affect Canada-U.S. economic relations. So I think there needs to be a re-evaluation of supply management.”

Trump has also been attacking the Canadian softwood lumber industry. He threatened to slap on a duty of up to 24 per cent on imported softwood from Canada.

Oneil Carlier, Alberta’s minister of agriculture and forestry, said in a news release that the government would stand with the Alberta forestry industry.

“This is the fifth time since 1982 that the U.S. has investigated alleged Canadian lumber subsidies,” he said in the release.

“In each case, international tribunals have ruled in Canada’s favour. We are confident we will prevail again,” Carlier said.


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