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Northumberland chapter highlights NAFTA & dairy issues in op-ed

Chapter activist Rick Arnold

The Council of Canadians Northumberland chapter has published an op-ed on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in Northumberland Today.

Chapter activist Rick Arnold writes, “Many of us here in Northumberland County have been transfixed by US President Donald Trump’s recent harsh rhetoric towards Canada and in response to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s attempt to placate the White House. Free-trade proponents would have us believe that NAFTA renegotiations is like a high-stakes game of poker to see who can gain advantage and out-manoeuvre the other. But let’s not be fooled for a moment that it’s a battle between equals. The renegotiation of NAFTA is not going to be a win-win proposition for either junior partner, Canada or Mexico.”

Arnold highlights, “Sadly, government leaders and their attendant free-trade promoters play down the fact that trade deals like NAFTA have contributed significantly to inequality, unemployment, migration, food dependency and pollution in all three nations.”

As an example, he notes, “On April 18, President Trump announced that he was coming after Canada’s dairy policies, alleging that they were hurting 75 Wisconsin farmers. Had Trump dug a little deeper, he would have had to face the fact that over-production of milk in the US was pushing dairy prices down and driving those small US farmers into bankruptcy. In fact, the president of the National Farmers’ Union Jan Slomp recently explained in a tweet to Trump that, if the US were to adopt their own version of a supply-management system like Canada’s, ‘…it could begin to restore prosperity to rural America’.”

Arnold concludes, “Unfortunately, the Trump administration does not appear to let facts stand in their way and, for this reason, both dairy farmers and milk-product consumers in Northumberland need to beware of the upcoming NAFTA renegotiations. Small and medium-sized dairy farmers both here and across Canada should reconsider whether the traditional strategy of lobbying Ottawa will be sufficient to turn back the ‘give’ tide when the US NAFTA negotiators apply the screws to their Canadian counterparts. And those of us who enjoy cow’s milk also need to be aware that opening up the Canadian market to US and other international dairy-production platforms will surely mean that bovine growth hormones and antibiotics will find their way into our currently unparalleled source of milk.”

To read the full op-ed, please click here.