Wisconsin, New York officials step into milk trade dispute

Posted April 08, 2017

"There was no way to know that we, as a dairy, and 74 others would be the ones to get picked off", Kristina Hopkins, a producer from Oconomowoc, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

A standard size dairy farm in Western Australia produces about 2 million litres a year. "We continue to witness a backsliding by Canada in its already agreed-to market access for USA products".

"If it comes down to wanting to borrow money from banks for long-term investment into dairy, and there's not a reasonable expectation that farmers will be able to have their milk picked up and sold, we could be looked upon very differently by the bankers".

When a major processor like Grassland reduces milk intake, that action is immediately felt, Brancel said.

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), U.S. Dairy Export Council and International Dairy Foods Association issued a joint statement urging President Trump to fight back against "protectionist Canadian trade policies".

"The minute Canada can actually revisit policy, these farmers will have the market again", says Jamie Castaneda, the Senior VP of National Milk Producers Federation.

Farmers are having trouble finding anyone to commit to buying their milk after May 1 and the worst case scenario could be selling the cow and closing down. "Any disruption in exports of dairy would have a devastating ripple effect on our farms and beyond, to workers in processing, transportation, and countless other sectors whose jobs are supported by these exports".

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Canadian dairy farmers have objected to the duty-free imports.

"Canada's protectionist dairy policies are having precisely the effect Canada intended: cutting off US dairy exports of ultra-filtered milk to Canada despite long-standing contracts with American companies", said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF.

"All Canadian dairy processors are entitled to source from any supplier they want, just like the US processors, said DFC Director of Communications, Isabelle Bouchard, "Nothing has changed in Canada". The letter is giving them less than a month's notice they need to find someone else to buy their milk. The group said the USA dairy market is struggling because too much milk is being supplied, but there is not enough demand to level out the cost. "A cow is a mammal, not a machine - you can't just turn her milk production off with a switch and wait for better market conditions".

The offices of Wisconsin Senators Ron Johnson (R) and Tammy Baldwin (D) both provided responses Thursday, saying they hope to work with White House officials and the Canadian government to reach a solution.

"They've invested in technology that enhances the value of product it sends out", Brancel said.

"More broadly, tens of thousands of dairy farmers will be affected by the larger scope of what Canada is doing, which is using pricing policy to offload milk powder in global markets where it will be competing with US exports", said a representative from National Milk Producers Federation in the Journal Sentinel report.