Wisconsin dairy farms face closure due to Canadian policies

Wisconsin dairy farms face closure due to Canadian policies

A local milk processor, Greenwood-based Grassland Dairy Products, recently said it was dropping several farms because it lost millions of dollars when Canada changed its milk pricing policies in a way that favors Canadian farmers.

Canada did this without negotiating the change, which is expected with any type of trade agreement. "In fact, Ontario-US two-way trade in agricultural products in 2016 was worth $28.8 billion - specifically, $11.2 billion in exports to the US and $17.6 billion in imports from the US to Ontario".

It's a complex problem, according to dairy industry experts.

Trump took aim at Canada's dairy industry this week for creating a new lower-priced classification of milk product that he argues hurts US producers. State and federal lawmakers in the USA have been urgently seeking short-term solutions along with an investigation of trade pacts with Canada. Daniel Smith, a state agriculture administrator, said 44 of those farms still haven't found alternatives. "We are asking our leaders to continue to push Canada to stick to its commitments under current trade agreements".

"What they've done to our dairy farm workers is a disgrace".

Just last week, US processor Grassland Dairy Products cancelled the contracts of 75 USA producers, blaming lost business with Canada.




Reintroducing quotas could stabilize the markets, but the immediate problem of small farms, like those in the U.P. being able to weather the change, is a problem. In some cases, assistance has come from other farmers who know they could face a similar dilemma.

In fact, Trump suggested he may "get rid of NAFTA once and for all". And yet, all three major political parties (and virtually every MP) have vowed to support the system. Leo Gerard, the head of the United Steelworkers, which has members in both the U.S. and Canada, was one of Trump's invited guests at the event Thursday where Trump signed the order targeting foreign steel products.

Another milk plant dropped 14 farmers for reasons unrelated to the Canada trade issue.

Canadian dairy farmers don't get subsidies but their industry is protected by a supply management system - ensuring consumers pay certain prices for their dairy products.

Canadian ambassador to Washington David MacNaughton has insisted that a global oversupply of milk, not Canada, is to blame for the problems of US dairy farmers. That balance has been upended by the surge of milk-protein imports, a glut of skim milk and underinvestment in dairy processing. By drastically reducing the price US farms get for such milk, there's no incentive for them to export it.

"Any increase of trade barriers between our countries would significantly impact jobs in the United States, as well as in Canada".

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