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Trudeau talks dairy with Ryan, but apparently not Trump

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., noted in a statement Feb. 14, that he had raised the issue of Canadian market access for U.S. dairy producers in his meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

But statements from the White House did not indicate that either President Donald Trump or Vice President Mike Pence had discussed dairy issues in their meetings with the Canadians, even though the U.S. dairy industry and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture had asked Trump to raise the issue.

"I appreciated the opportunity to welcome Prime Minister Trudeau to the Capitol this afternoon," Ryan said in a statement.

"We had a productive discussion focused on ways to deepen ties between the U.S. and Canada with respect to trade and national security. This means reaffirming our commitment to NATO and increasing economic cooperation to make our nations more prosperous and secure. I also reemphasized the importance of breaking down trade barriers and improving market access for America's dairy farmers. We look forward to continue strengthening the U.S.-Canada relationship."

In their joint statement, Trump and Trudeau focused on the close security and trade relationship between the U.S. and Canada.

BBC News reported "The prime minister can travel back to Ottawa with Mr. Trump on the record as calling the trade relationship between the two nations 'outstanding' and only in need of a 'tweaking.' What those tweaks might entail is still to be revealed, but you could almost hear anxious Canadian businesspeople breathing a sigh of relief."

Vice President Mike Pence also met with Canadian ministers, but there was no mention of dairy in his White House statement either.

DAIRY SYSTEM

On Feb. 13, the National Milk Producers Federation, the U.S. Dairy Export Council, the International Dairy Foods Association and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture issued a statement asking Trump to raise their complaints about Canada's dairy pricing system.

"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 groups said in the joint statement.

"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," Mulhern said.

Tom Vilsack, the agriculture secretary in the Obama administration who is 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."

Michael Dykes, president and CEO of IDFA, noted, "Canada's intentional and continued flouting of its trade obligations effectively blocks imports of U.S. ultra-filtered milk. What's more, existing Canadian tariffs that range from 200 percent to more than 300 percent on other U.S. dairy products are unacceptable. Exports are vitally important to the health of the U.S. economy, especially in the rural heartland of our country, and we urge President Trump to stress the importance of market access for U.S. dairy products during his meeting with Prime Minister Trudeau."

"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 Barbara 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." ❖