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Under pressure – a WP Special Report

Supply management, particularly Canada’s dairy industry, has come under heavy scrutiny in the North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations.

Western Producer reporters Barb Glen, Robert Arnason and Ed White look at the American and Canadian systems to see where problems are, where solutions might be found and what would happen if Canada adopted the U.S. system.

All of the stories in this special report are linked below:

Who pays more? – The Western Producer compared six common food-basket items across the northern tier of the U.S. and Canada, using similar grocery stores, regions and community sizes. In a four-day period last week, we made sure to check regular prices at larger chain grocery stores, rather than using flyer or loss-leader sales. 

The accidental case that brought us to the edge – There’s no way to provide a brief history of the evolution of Class 7 milk. But it is possible to untangle the factors that led to the creation of possibly the single biggest American complaint about Canada’s trade behaviour, one that has threatened to cause the unravelling of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Dishing on the dairy industry – Thanks to CNN and Fox News and constant exposure to American media, the typical Canadian spends a great deal of time talking about politics in the United States. The relationship isn’t reciprocal.

U.S. milk industry sours – CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wisconsin — The sky was a deep blue, the air was warm and it was a beautiful morning to be on a dairy farm in western Wisconsin. And then, Mandy Nunes began to cry.

Wisconsin dairy farmers seek Canadian advice – CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wisconsin — Not long ago in America’s dairy industry, supply management was about as popular as a rodent at a garden party. Mentioning it out loud in Washington or at state legislatures was “toxic,” said Julie Keown-Bomar, executive director of the Wisconsin Farmers Union.

Organic milk production no hedge against low price – CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wisconsin — A couple of years ago, Adam Seibel received US$35 per hundredweight for his organic milk — nearly double the price of regular milk. Then the price fell off a cliff. 

What happens if we end supply management? – What would happen if supply management disappeared and dairy farmers were thrust into a free market? It’s not likely to happen, since even the administration of United States President Donald Trump doesn’t seem to be trying to entirely eliminate the system that controls Canadian dairy production and imports.

Dairy farmer worked both sides of the border – PARMA, Idaho — Allan Huttema has operated dairy farms on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border. Near Chilliwack, B.C., he owned a dairy established by his grandfather who emigrated from Holland after the Second World War.

The word is Class; the number is 7 – MERIDIAN, Idaho — One word and one number form the crux of the dairy stumbling block in ongoing negotiations for a new North American Free Trade Agreement. Class 7, Canada’s recently developed pricing policy for milk protein concentrates, has reduced American milk exports to Canada at a time when U.S. milk prices are low and the country’s markets are oversupplied.

Why are Minnesota dairy farmers in the red? – Four years ago, Minnesota dairy farmers had few reasons to complain. Milk prices were sky high and profits were through the roof. In 2014, the net income of the median dairy farm in Minnesota was US$137,962.

U.S. dairy farmers respond to Canadians – MERIDIAN, Idaho — There’s robust defence of supply management among Canadian dairy producers and marketing boards. They often compare the system to that of the United States, a supply-and-demand driven system that would likely be the alternative should supply management ever disappear.

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