Donald Trump recently attacked Canada’s dairy industry, calling our policies unfair. Milk supply in Canada, like poultry and eggs, is strictly regulated by supply management policies. By regulating the supply of milk by quotas, setting a price for milk, and placing high tariffs on imported dairy products, the government provides a guaranteed return on investment and security for dairy farmers. All the other farmers in Canada, do not share in this luxury, and must compete in the global market.
Ultra filtered milk products used in cheese production, having been created after the establishment of NAFTA and its associated trade policies, are exempt from the high tariffs imposed on dairy imports into Canada. Wisconsin farmers have been selling ultra filtered milk to Canadian cheese manufacturers until as recently as 2016, when Canada, in particular the province of Ontario, allowed for a decrease in the price of ultra filtered milk products and high protein milk substances. This allowed Canadian cheese producers to buy from Canadian dairy farmers, leaving Wisconsin farmers with a glut of ultra filtered milk. As a result, this month, many Wisconsin dairy farmers are at risk of losing their farms and livelihoods if they do not find somewhere else to sell their milk.
A confluence of factors brought this to the attention of Donald Trump, including the fact that Wisconsin overwhelmingly supported Trump, and US speaker of the House, Paul Ryan is from Wisconsin. Standing up for the Wisconsin dairy farmer, Donald Trump swears he will make Canada answer for its actions and he will find a solution for Canada’s unfair policies.
It is true that globally, Canada takes a bad rap for its supply management policies and the high tariffs they impose on imported dairy products. How does Canada expect to be part of a global free trade economy when its borders are essentially closed for importation of dairy products? Supply management guarantees dairy farmers a comfortable return on investment and yet, the dairy industry in Canada is not growing, Shouldn’t dairy farmers have to compete for their livelihoods just like everyone else? Supply management policies in the dairy industry reflect poorly on Canada globally, causing other businesses to suffer. Is it time to stop protecting the dairy farmer? Sadly, no political representative has been willing to stand up against supply management, fearing the political suicide of such actions.
Donald Trump has brought the supply management dilemma to the forefront for us. It is time to tackle this issue and put it to rest. Supply management, it’s “Pasteur” bedtime.