Dairy Groups Unhappy with Canadian Milk Pricing Policy

Jamie Johansen

National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC), the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) urged President Trump to discuss Canada’s protectionist milk pricing policy during yesterday’s meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The groups are calling it “one of the most sensitive and urgent topics complicating the relationship between the two countries.”

The pricing scheme, already implemented in Ontario last year and slated to be used by Canada’s other provinces this year, is expressly intended to slash milk imports from the United States. The policy will also enable Canada to sell dairy ingredients below cost in international markets, in effect dumping the product at below cost in competition with U.S. dairy exports. The Ontario program has already cost U.S. companies $150 million in exports, thereby harming the American dairy farmers, dairy plant employees and rural communities that depend on the benefits of those foreign sales.

Implementation of this pricing measure “comes at a time when compliance with the letter and spirit of trade agreements is of paramount importance, both here in Washington and around the world,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. “Despite this, Canada still wants to move ahead with a policy that clearly violates its trade agreements with our country. We hope President Trump will remind Prime Minister Trudeau how important it is that Canada honor its commitments.”

Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of USDEC, said “American dairy producers and processors want a fair and level trade relationship, and have deep concerns about proposed changes to the Canadian supply-side management system, which are designed, in part, to discourage U.S. exports.”

“The states are deeply troubled by recent actions taken in Canada, at the provincial and national level, which raise serious concerns about Canada’s compliance with international trade obligations,” said NASDA CEO Dr. Barbara P. Glenn. “We encourage President Trump to make this a top priority for his administration and we urge Prime Minister Trudeau to ensure Canada meets its obligations.”