Trump Says Cheese But We Won’t Smile

Like many Canadians, I was disgusted by the tactics Trump and his administration used in the Nafta 2.0 negotiations: bullying with tariffs justified on specious grounds of “national security,” dishonesty about the current trade balance between Canada and the US, and hypocrisy about American restrictions on trade, particularly in the dairy sector.

The Trump Administration touts Nafta 2.0 as a big win for the US dairy sector. But Canadian consumers can deny them a victory by just saying no to American dairy, just as many are attempting to boycott the US in other ways. (Personal disclosure: I am already boycotting the US by refusing to travel there and avoiding purchases of American food and wine).

I imagine the US is hoping that Canadian food producers will purchase more American milk as an input to other dairy products, so Canadian consumers will unknowingly end up consuming more American milk. I think there is a considerable desire on the part of Canadians to help maintain the character of rural Canada by resisting American dairy imports. But our ability to act on this desire depends on the market signals we receive.

Canadian dairy producers can help us by labelling their packaging to clearly and boldly indicate their products are made in Canada using entirely Canadian inputs. Given that US milk often contains bovine growth hormone, which is not used in Canada, food producers can also label their products to indicate that they are free of BGH.

Supermarkets should also set up their dairy shelves to indicate the origin of products, in just the same way that Ontario liquor stores differentiate wine by country of origin. So we should see Canadian cheese separated from US cheese, Canadian eggs from US eggs, and Canadian poultry from US poultry. And then we can make our decisions accordingly.

The Trump Administration assumes Canadians are salivating for American dairy products. Let’s show them they’re wrong. Let’s give American dairy products the same reception that Canadian women gave Ivanka Trump brand clothing. It was removed from The Bay’s shelves. If American dairy products end up going bad on grocery store shelves, they too will be removed. When the American dairy industry says “cheese,” let’s just say “no thanks.”

1 comment

  1. I’m not a Trump supporter, and there certainly should be grave concerns over his “Trumpmanship” (brinkmanship) tactics in negotiations.

    However, there is perhaps a deeper logical flaw in the argument offered above.

    But first, in terms of labeling country of origin, sure, definitely, Canadian firms should do this. Why?

    Absent barriers or price supports, Canadian products will simply be much more expensive than the (roughly) comparable American products. The only way such price differentials can be supported (Canadian farmers can be supported) is by indicating country of origin, so that nationalistic Canadians can make the choice to spend more for local products.

    In reality, though, such a boycott becomes exactly what you decry in the Trumpian approach — nationalistic protectionism (here led by consumers, but ultimately, the same thing?).

    Trump’s approach to “public leadership” seems to be to disparage anything done before himself, publicly “revoke” previous arrangements, “re-negotiate for a better deal,” and settle for a new deal substantially the same as the prior except for one or two things he can then claim “victory” with. Oh, and of course, re-naming the deal.

    ps: I’m an overseas American, my regular visits to US indicate to me that the “liberals” simply misjudged the level of concern by working-class middle-America. Jerry Fallwell couldn’t do it, but finally the rust-belt and the religious and the poor south and the farmers united with the unlikely Trump candidacy to “re-claim America”, and they aren’t giving it up nomatterwhat…

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