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Cross-border dairy feud heats up

Canadian ambassador says 'Canada is not to blame' for low prices in U.S.

In a letter to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Canadian ambassador David MacNaughton writes "Canada is not to blame for the global situation that both Canadian and American farmers face."

Poor results in the U.S. dairy sector are due to U.S. and global dairy overproduction, he writes.

"Canada does not accept the contention that Canada's dairy policies are the cause of financial loss for dairy farmers in the United States," MacNaughton said. "The facts do not bear this out."

National Milk Producers Federation president and CEO Jim Mulhern takes issue with MacNaughton's assertion.

“It’s absurd for the Canadian government to assert there is no relationship between its new Class 7 policy and the lost U.S. milk sales there," Mulhern said in a media statement. "When customers in Canada, who have been purchasing milk products from American suppliers for years, suddenly decide to switch to domestic suppliers after Canada implements a major change in milk pricing, it is abundantly clear that the lost business incurred by U.S. farmers is directly tied to Canada’s milk pricing system."

Mulhern says the problems facing dairy farmers have nothing to do with "overproduction." Rather, he says, the change in Canadian policy.

“Canada’s effort to shift the focus away from the internal problems their milk pricing system is disingenuous at best," Mulhern said. "Canada can support its industry without intentionally using policy tools to harm U.S. dairy farmers and world dairy markets.”

MacNaughton said the dairy industry is struggling for many reasons.

"Dairy farmers globally, and not just in the U.S., are facing many challenges," MacNaughton said. "Like their U.S. counterparts, Canadian farmers are trying to adapt. This is why the Canadian industry has taken steps to reform – including the negotiation of the National Ingredient Strategy."

 Source: Canadian Embassy, NMPF

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