Study highlights Americans’ protectionist dairy policy

If you listen to U.S. President Donald Trump, the United States is a free-trading hero that is being abused by protectionist “freeloaders” like Canada.

Especially with Canadian restrictions on dairy imports, the U.S. president has presented an image of fair-trading American dairy farmers being taken advantage of by outrageous Canadian rules to protect that country’s own farmers.

It’s something Al Mussell hopes an analysis from his firm, Agrifood Economic Systems, dispels.

“This idea that we’re the protectionist bogeyman and the U.S. is the victim, frankly, is laughable,” said Mussell.

“For all intents and purposes, the U.S. is a closed market.”

Far from the image that Trump portrays and most Americans believe, the U.S. dairy system is propped up by numerous tariffs and controls that effectively block most imports. Only a small amount of cheese can be imported by the U.S., still facing a 12 percent tariff, before a battery of costs and controls are imposed.

Canada charges only a one percent tariff in the same category.

Once the limited amount of low-tariff cheese has been imported by either nation, hefty tariffs and restrictions are applied.

Canada’s are easy to see, with some cheese hit with 245 percent tariffs. The U.S. tariffs and controls are harder to see because of their complexity, but the analysis says in an “extreme case” U.S. tariffs can be 281 percent.

“It’s quite transparent,” said Mussell of Canada’s tariff wall.

“You can see how it works. When you get into the U.S. … you’re into a whole new animal.”

Canada allows almost double the rate of low-tariff imports that the U.S. allows and is a net importer.

The study isn’t a defence of Canada’s supply management system so much as a setting-the-record-straight about the U.S. industry and how it has been misrepresented by the American government as somehow more virtuous.

“The extent of dairy protection is really similar in both countries,” concludes the analysis.

About the author


  • Canadian Politcal History.

    As a one time Conservative Riding secretary and of an age greater than 90% of Canadians I offer this glimpse into our past.

    The Liberals built Canada with little interruption to their base until 1919 to 1937 in which case the American Republicans working through the Morman Church, helped them establish “The United Farmers of Alberta” This party morphed itself into the Veterans and Active force, 1944 to 1948, again the US Republicans were fully involved. This morphed into the Conservatives which found a hard landing after Diefenbaker and the Avro-Arrow. (You now know the reason Diefenbaker scrapped the Arrow in Canada allowing the US to take up the design) and, Harper sold off the Canadian Wheat Board to US interest in leaving office.

    They again morphed into the Progressive Conservatives. This party was started by Peter Lougheed and company. Peter broke away from the Republicans, in fact, took on US oil interests in Alberta in the much-maligned NATIONAL ENERGY PROGRAM. Peter became the most popular Premier not only of Alberta but, all of Canada.

    When Klein took over he doubled down with the US Republicans. All this happening while the Wild Rose Party kept the original foundation going with the Church. Now we had two political parties which could appear as opposition, one extreme and one tame by comparison. Doing what they do best, played both ends against the middle.

    Take a look at The Huffington Post” to see the teamwork us/Canadian and the treatment you get if you enter an opinion on US politics.

    With this insight some of the decisions will make sense.

    I tell you this in the hopes you will know more about who you are voting for.


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