KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) - President Donald Trump is promising to find a solution to a trade dispute with Canada that has left dairy farmers in Wisconsin and NY without a market for their product.
"Canada does not accept the contention that Canada's dairy policies are the cause of financial loss for dairy farmers in the United States", Ambassador MacNaughton wrote. "And they'll give us an answer, but we're going to get the solution - not just the answer".
Ottawa's envoy to Washington downplayed talk of growing trade irritants with the USA, a day after President Donald Trump sharply criticized Canada's well-guarded dairy sector.
Last week, U.S. Sens.
He appeared to be taking dead aim at the industry, its coveted supply-management system long a sacred political cow in Canada, during an appearance in Wisconsin, a state he took from the Democrats with his "America First" anti-trade message.
The current system limits the amount of dairy and poultry Canada can import before a tariff kicks in. "Supply management allows that".
"When we got the news from Mullins, it was a little bit bittersweet", Portage dairy farmer Beth Heinze said.
But critics argue it hasn't worked.
"What's happened to you is very, very unfair".
François Dumontier, a spokesperson for Les Producteurs de lait du Québec, says that while Trump condemned the supply management system on Tuesday, he may have actually been talking about a separate issue.
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Kevin Ellis knew his company, Cayuga Milk Ingredients in Aurelius, would take a hit when Canada implemented its new dairy pricing policy related to ultra-filtered milk.
"We can't let Canada or anybody else take advantage and do what they did to our workers and to our farmers", Trump said in the Oval Office. "It's specifically designed for our market".
The ambassador also noted that the current dairy trade balance favours the USA five to one - a point he underscored again during a news conference on Wednesday.
Industry groups in New Zealand, Australia, the European Union, Mexico and the United States complained that the new prices for Canadian milk ingredients under-cut their exports to Canada. "There has been no change in regulation". "It works really well, it provides a stable supply of milk, it supplies us with a stable income".
The National Milk Producers Federation, the U.S. Dairy Export Council and the International Dairy Foods Association earlier this month called on the federal government, and on governors in Northern states, to take immediate action on Canada's dairy pricing practices, as U.S. dairy farmers' livelihoods are threatened.
"The facts do not bear this out", MacNaughton's letter states before arguing overproduction in both the USA and world are causing poor results, something Canada is not doing.
"We protect a part of our market with tariffs, that's true; they protect it with subsidies", he says.
"We're also going to stand up for our dairy farmers in Wisconsin", Trump told the crowd.
Mr Trump targeted Canada's dairy sector as "unfair" in a recent speech in Wisconsin.