'New NAFTA' pact shores up support for President Trump


"We're extremely concerned that the deal forces Canada to inform the USA of any intention to pursue negotiations with a non-market economy like China", Ontario Minister of Economic Development Jim Wilson said in Question Period on Thursday. It will bring more pipelines and exports of natural gas and oil that will encourage more fracking in the USA and Mexico at a time when we urgently need to move off of fossil fuels to avert the worst effects of the churning climate chaos we are already experiencing.

"We now have to ask for Washington's permission to enter into trade negotiations with certain countries that the U.S will designate as non-market countries", he said Friday.

HOPE KIRWAN, BYLINE: I'm standing in the exhibition hall at the World Dairy Expo.

Dairy Farmers of Canada estimates that 220,000 Canadian families rely directly on the dairy industry for their livelihoods.

KIRWAN: That's dairy farmer Katie Ziemer. And we've made improvements.

That relationship has been strained by retaliatory tariffs as a result of steel and aluminum tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump, which has driven down the cost of dairy in the a year ago. The price farmers are paid for their milk dropped from $26 for 100 pounds of milk in 2014 to just $16 now.

Island dairy farmers point out that the new U.S. -Mexico-Canada agreement, to replace NAFTA, is the latest trade agreement to chip away at Canada's share of the market, following the Canada-EU deal and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The most significant achievement by Canadian negotiators is their success in preserving Chapter 19 from the original NAFTA.

Nelson said the agricultural industry as a whole has been struggling. The goal was to boost domestic sales.

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"I don't need their milk production anymore", he said.

By the time the Trump administration opened NAFTA negotiations, fixing the dairy market was a top priority.

A spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland repeated the government's view that nothing in the new trade agreement would prevent Canada from deepening its trade ties with other countries. Mark Stephenson heads dairy policy analysis at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Josh Ireland of Albadon Farms Limited in Teeswater says that the deal will negatively affect income on farms in Bruce County.

"Although its findings are not likely to move markets, they present an alarming picture of US industrial decay driven by both domestic and foreign factors", wrote defense consultant Loren Thompson, who has close ties to Boeing Co and other companies.

Under the agreement, Canada would drop its Class 7 pricing system, in which that country prices milk ingredients such as powdered and skim milk at a lower cost than butter.

The report also examined US shortcomings that contribute to weakness in domestic industry, including roller-coaster USA defense budgets that make it hard for USA companies to predict government demand.

Mr. Wilson raised questions about increasing access to Ontario's dairy market, the remaining steel and aluminum tariffs and a clause that places restrictions on Canada's bilateral trade deals with "non-market" economies such as China.

And while there may not be any immediate threats on the horizon, now that Canada has negotiated agreements with most other major dairy producers, a precedent has been set and there are no guarantees it won't continue to erode.