U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue completed his first international trip on Monday. Perdue traveled to Toronto, where he conducted a series of meetings with Canadian officials, including Canadian Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Lawrence MacAulay and current Premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne, regarding bilateral trade issues of importance. Among other issues, Perdue raised the topic of American ultra-filtered milk that has been a point of disagreement between the U.S. and Canada.
Perdue also participated in a celebration of the 10th year of the Southeastern United States-Canadian Provinces Alliance (SEUS-CP), an organization meant to foster mutually beneficial relationships Perdue helped found as governor of Georgia in 2007. Perdue participated in a “fireside chat” regarding SEUS-CP with former Premier of Quebec Jean Charest.
Finally, Perdue attended the inaugural “tasteU.S.” culinary showcase of Southeastern United States products at the Marché Mövenpick Brookfield Restaurant.
“We had very good, very candid discussions, very frank, like family members discussing some things that are not necessarily comfortable. We laid out a great framework to begin renegotiating NAFTA," Perdue said.
“I was able to describe the issues that we feel are important to resolve – and can be resolved – as we begin to renegotiate NAFTA," he said.
They talked about ultra-filtered milk and wheat grading and wine issues.
“It’s not our purpose to try to manage or try to get involved in their internal supply management regarding the dairy industry," Perdue said. "The ultra-filtered milk was not included in NAFTA. And I made it very clear that the Class 7 designation we felt was an unfair undercutting of the U.S. industry that grew up south of the U.S.-Canada border. It cut these producers and this industry out of shipping the ultra-filtered milk into their cheese industry, which was in demand in Canada. I also said, if you want to manage your dairy supply with supply management, that’s fine. You just need to manage it and not overproduce to create a glut of milk solids on the world market that’s being dumped at unfair prices."
As two of the world’s largest agricultural producers with a shared border, Canada and the United States are key markets for each other’s agricultural products. In 2016, the United States exported $20.2 billion of agricultural products to Canada, making it our second-largest agricultural export market, while Canada exported $21 billion of agricultural products to the United States.