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.”

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