President Donald Trump on Tuesday delivered some unusually harsh remarks about Canada, slamming the country’s dairy supply management system as a “one-sided deal” that disadvantages American farmers.
“We are also going to stand up for our dairy farmers in Wisconsin,” Trump said in a speech to factory workers in Kenosha, Wisconsin, before signing a “Buy American, Hire American” executive order.
“I’ve been reading about it, I’ve been talking about it for a long time, and that demands, really, immediately, fair trade with all of our trading partners. And that includes Canada. Because in Canada, some very unfair things have happened to our dairy farmers,” Trump said.
Last April, the Canadian province of Ontario implemented a new milk-pricing policy that imposes import taxes on ultra-filtered milk, a liquid protein concentrate used to make cheese. Under the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, such imports had been duty-free, until Canadian dairy producers complained.
Dozens of dairy producers in Wisconsin and New York have been affected by the policy and have been up in arms for months, accusing Canada of flouting international trade rules and preventing American farmers from fairly competing. Canadians have rebuked those claims, arguing the US produces too much milk in a global market already saturated with it.
On Tuesday, Trump suggested he, along with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Sen. Ron Johnson, and House Speaker Paul Ryan, who also hails from Wisconsin, would contact the Canadian government to negotiate a solution.
“We’re going to get together and we’re going to call Canada, and we’re going to say, ‘What happened?’ And they might give us an answer, but we’re going to get the solution, not just the answer, OK?” Trump said.
“We’re going to work on that very hard, we’re going to work on it immediately. In fact, starting today. It’s a terrible thing that happened to the farmers of Wisconsin,” he added.
The remarks are a marked departure from Trump’s previous comments on Canada. Just two months ago, Trump had warmly greeted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the White House, assuring reporters at a joint press conference that the trade relationship between the two countries was “outstanding” and would only require some “tweaking.”
“It’s a much less severe situation than what’s taken place on the southern border,” Trump said at the February press conference. “We are going to have a great relationship with Canada. Maybe as good — or better, hopefully — than before.”
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