Canadian Dairy farmers say they're nervous after Trump's tirade
Published Monday, June 11, 2018 11:30PM ADT
Last Updated Monday, June 11, 2018 11:33PM ADT
Dairy farmers admit to be being more than a little nervous after Donald Trump's anti-Canada Twitter-tirade over the weekend.
The U.S. president singled out the industry in a couple of bitterly-worded attacks after the G7 summit, pointing out U.S. dairy products face huge tariffs at the Canadian border.
Gerrit Damsteegt of Shubenacadie is a dairy farmer, the chair of the Dairy Farmers of Nova Scotia, and a director on the board of the Dairy Farmers of Canada.
"I wish that he would make a statement based on facts,” Damsteegt said. “But it seems to be more, he's flying off the cuff."
Trump took-aim at the Canadian dairy industry over the weekend, noting that U.S. products are subject to tariffs of 270 per cent at the Canadian border - unreasonable for a country that says it wants freer trade.
Damsteegt says 10 per cent of the Canadian market is already duty-free, resulting in a massive “dairy deficit” with the U.S.
"It's five to one,” he said. “They bring five times as much in than we export to the United States."
While most of us love to complain about grocery-prices, Atlantic Canadians might be onto something when it comes to milk.
Two-and-a-half years ago, a survey by the retail intelligence firm Field Agent Canada found we pay between 23 and 47-per-cent more for two-per-cent milk than the rest of the country.
“It’s a combination of quotas, inefficient production, and minimum milk prices in some provinces,” says Jeff Doucette, the general manager of Field Agent Canada. “It all adds up in Atlantic Canada to really expensive milk versus the rest of Canada.”
Sylvain Charlebois is a food distribution and policy professor at Dalhousie University. Tariffs are a fact of life, but the supply management system protecting Canadian Dairy farmers needs a revamp.
"It's been an issue,” he says. “Trump just made it more obvious. That's why dairy farmers have every right to be concerned about what's going on because right now, you do have a federal government that is talking out of both sides of their mouth, and the Trump administration is taking advantage of that. At the end of the day, we are a bit hypocritical, in our position.”
Charlebois says if Canada got rid of its quota system and tariffs, it would cause the collapse of the Canadian dairy industry
Damsteegt isn't convinced consumers would be better off if the market was flooded with cheap American milk because transportation costs alone would drive prices up.
“Just think about the carbon footprint of all of that,” he said.
With files from Bruce Frisko.