U.S. President Donald Trump promised on Tuesday to defend American dairy farmers who have been hurt by Canada’s protectionist trade practices, during a visit to the cheese-making state of Wisconsin.The dirty little secret of trade policy is that the advanced industrial economies, whether under the rubric of Common Agricultural Policy or in reverence of the Minutemen and the State Volunteer Regiments who marched with Grant and Sherman, all protect domestic agricultural production and ship the surplus overseas under the rubric of foreign aid.
Canada's dairy sector is protected by high tariffs on imported products and controls on domestic production as a means of supporting prices that farmers receive. It is frequently criticized by other dairy-producing countries.
"We're also going to stand up for our dairy farmers," Trump said in Kenosha, Wisconsin. "Because in Canada some very unfair things have happened to our dairy farmers and others."
Trump did not detail his concerns, but promised his administration would call the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and demand an explanation.
"It's another typical one-sided deal against the United States and it's not going to be happening for long," Trump said.
Trump also reiterated his threat to eliminate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico if it cannot be changed.
U.S. dairy industry groups want Trump to urge Trudeau to halt a pricing policy that has disrupted some U.S. dairy exports and prioritize dairy market access in NAFTA renegotiation talks.
The more general lesson, though, is that when Canadians choose to produce cheese with milk from their own pastures, they give up an opportunity to produce cheese with maple syrup from their forests. Mr Trump apparently still doesn't grasp this, although he's getting an education.
On balance, though, not having to report on a Hillary Clinton visit to Snap-On Tools is probably a good thing.