WATCH: They are caught in the middle of an international trade fight. B.C.’s dairy farms, about 40 on Vancouver Island, are mainly family-run operations. But U.S. President Donald Trump’s beef with Canadian milk has many now worried about their futures. Mary Griffin reports.
Dairy farmers, like Mickey Aylard in North Saanich, are under attack.
On the weekend, U.S. President Donald Trump targeted Canadian dairy producers.
“The United States pays tremendous tariffs on dairy. As an example, 270 per cent, nobody knows that. We pay nothing. We don’t want to pay anything. Why should we pay?” Trump said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has met with egg and dairy producers to show support for the Canadian industries.
As for a response to Trump’s latest attack, Trudeau would not bite.
“On his comments, as I said, I’m going to stay focused on defending jobs for Canadians, and supporting Canadian interests,” Trudeau said.
Back in North Saanich, Aylard walks through the barn and into the room where the milk tanks are stored.
“So, these are our milk tanks, we have two milk tanks. We fill one per day, and the milk truck comes every other day. We ship about 3,000 litres in each tank,” Aylard said.
Supply management limits production by only allowing a certain of milk to be produced. Supply management is supposed to keep the market from getting saturated, keep prices stable and ensure steady incomes for farmers. Canadians pay for the full cost of milk at the cash register. Critics have called the system is a protectionist.
But in the U.S., farmers are subsidized.
And there is also an issue with over-supply.
Dr. Sylvain Charlebois, who teaches agriculture at Halifax’s Dalhousie University, said it may be time to change Canada’s supply management system.
“I would say that this is an opportunity for Canada to revisit the whole issue of supply management. We are the only industrialized country in the world with a system like this,” Charlebois said.
But in the meantime, with a potential trade war looming, it could be a long, difficult, summer for Vancouver Island dairy farmers like Aylard.
“He definitely seems to be picking on us for no reason because we haven’t done anything wrong to prompt him. I think he’s realizing he’s got a big problem and is pointing the finger a little bit,” Aylard said.