Dairy protection sought ahead of NAFTA talks

CNS Canada — The head of Canada’s dairy industry group highlighted the role of Canadian dairy producers in the domestic market, as the potential for trade agreement renegotiations loom.

U.S. President Donald Trump said earlier in the year he was considering pulling the U.S. from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), but later shifted his position to say he will renegotiate the trade deal.

The U.S. dairy lobby released a 15-page document indicating its demands as those talks are expected to move forward. The National Milk Producers Federation and the U.S. Dairy Export Council groups are asking for freer trade in dairy and a reversal of a Canadian industry policy on pricing milk-derived products.

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Wally Smith, president of Dairy Farmers of Canada, said his group is more concerned with being able to produce goods for the domestic market than the export market in the U.S.

“We’re not interested in the export market,” Smith said via phone from Washington, D.C. on Friday.

“Our interest is serving the domestic market and continuing to serve the domestic market.”

The industry is looking to the Canadian government for continued support, he added. Multiple government officials have affirmed their support for the supply management system.

There is no clear timeline on when renegotiations of the trade deal could start, though talks are expected to start this summer.

“It’s difficult to know just exactly at this time when it might be,” Smith said.

— Jade Markus writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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