U.S. dairy farmers get little assist from Canada commerce deal By EconomySquare

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© Reuters. Cattle wait their flip to be milked on a farm close to Rosser, Manitoba

By Julie Ingwersen and Rod Nickel

MADISON, Wisconsin/ST. CLAUDE, Manitoba (Reuters) – Minnesota farmer Paul Fritsche can not afford medical insurance as he struggles to maintain a dairy farm that has been in his household for practically a century.

With U.S. milk costs within the fourth 12 months of a hunch as a consequence of continual oversupply, Fritsche, 58, is uncertain whether or not he’ll be capable of move his 30-cow farm onto his sons and grandsons.

“Do you pull the plug? We’ve been at it for 90 years,” he stated. “I’d hate to lose that.”

The dairy business was a sticking level within the contentious renegotiations of the free commerce deal between the U.S., Canada and Mexico that concluded final month.

U.S. President Donald Trump demanded concessions from the protected Canadian dairy business and stated on Twitter that Canada was hurting U.S. farmers with excessive tariffs. After Canada gave some floor, Trump claimed a giant victory and stated farmers would have extra export choices.

However Canada opened lower than four % of its dairy market to U.S. farmers – a concessions unlikely to make a lot of a dent in U.S. oversupply or enhance the lot of farmers similar to Fritsche, producers on either side of the border say.

The U.S. Commerce Consultant – which negotiated the brand new deal that changed the North American Free Commerce Settlement (NAFTA) with Mexico and Canada – declined to remark. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue stated in an announcement Friday that the deal will “crack open” extra dairy entry and cited “significant victories” for U.S. agriculture.

In Canada, the dairy business is faring a lot better and continues to be among the many nation’s most worthwhile farm sectors, permitting most farmers to soak up the concessions’ affect. As well as, Ottawa has promised to compensate dairy farmers for losses stemming from opening up the business.

Third-generation Canadian farmers Alain Philippot and Henry Holtmann are every making ready to carry their kids into the enterprise. They are saying the concessions sting and can restrict progress. However the nation’s protectionist system with its greater costs stays intact.

“I don’t think there will be a mass exodus” of farmers, Holtmann stated. “There will be some leaving, but that’s because their business models weren’t flexible enough.”


With Wisconsin alone producing extra milk than is consumed in all of Canada, the extra market entry offers little consolation.

The typical value that dairy vegetation pay U.S. farmers for milk fell from a peak of $25 per hundred kilos (45.36 kilograms) in 2014 to about $16 now, in line with the U.S. Division of Agriculture (USDA).

“The only thing that will help us is less milk or more consumption of milk,” stated Scooter LaPrise, 53, who together with his spouse has about 30 cows on one among eight remaining dairy farms in Rhode Island.

“It’s not going to fix anything,” he stated of the revamped commerce settlement. “It’s just something to catch votes.”

(For a Wider Picture picture essay on U.S. dairy farmers, see: https://reut.rs/2JicGyI )

Whereas the greater than 40,000 U.S. dairy farms have endured slumps earlier than, the present value slide has been unusually drawn-out as milk manufacturing elevated in recent times regardless of falling costs. Per capita consumption of U.S. fluid milk has been falling steadily because the 1970s, though whole dairy consumption has elevated as People eat extra yogurt, butter and cheese, in line with the USDA.

The brand new association with Canada possible will not pull U.S. dairy farmers out of the ditch, stated Mark Stephenson, director of dairy coverage and evaluation on the College of Wisconsin.

“It does provide a bit more access to Canada,” he stated. “But it’s pretty incremental change.”


Canada has been an island of stability in an in any other case risky world business. In July, farmers within the Canadian province of Ontario obtained the equal of $24.20 per hundred kilos of milk, about 50 % greater than U.S. farmers acquire, in line with information printed by Dairy Farmers of Ontario.

That is as a result of Canada manages oversupply by issuing manufacturing quotas to farmers primarily based on home consumption, setting costs in line with a formulation that elements in farm prices and imposing excessive tariffs to maintain most imports out.

In 35 years of farming, St. Claude, Manitoba farmer Philippot has misplaced cash solely “a handful” of instances.

Since Holtmann and his brother took over the household dairy farm close to Rosser, Manitoba in 1995, they’ve expanded nine-fold, to 600 cows, which required them to spend about C$14 million to buy the proper to provide extra milk. The system permits farmers to purchase and promote items of manufacturing quota – primarily based on 1 kilogram of butterfat per day, or practically the output of 1 cow – which at present fetch near C$30,000 every at public sale in Manitoba.

In a Statistics Canada profitability measure, dairy farmers’ working bills have been 77 % of gross farm receipts in 2015, the newest information obtainable, the healthiest stage of 11 farm sectors.

That statistic doesn’t embody debt, nevertheless. Canadian dairy farmers in 2015 held the second-highest liabilities on common amongst Canadian farm sectors in addition to the third-highest internet price, in line with Statistics Canada.

Farmers say concessions in latest commerce offers will pressure their earnings and leverage.

Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) estimates that the market share ceded to the US, in addition to in commerce offers with the European Union and Pacific nations, will add as much as 18 % by 2024, price C$1.three billion.

“Is it impossible to get over that? No. But it’s like losing a finger, and then another one,” stated Philippot at his small 68-cow farm.

Canada additionally agreed in commerce talks with the US to dismantle a pricing system for the lower-value skim portion of milk that beforehand allowed Canadian skim to displace U.S. components within the manufacturing of cheese and yogurt. Philippot says that transfer will scale back the costs farmers obtain for milk.

Canada’s mixed concessions might imply reductions to Canadian dairy farmers’ quotas, since manufacturing is matched to home consumption, much less imports.

Home consumption progress, nevertheless, estimated at 2 % yearly by DFC for the subsequent six years, offsets a few of the misplaced share to imports and mitigates any lowered quotas.

LaPrise expressed admiration for Canada’s “really good milk system.”

“When a Canadian dairy farmer wants to retire he sells his quota and he can retire on that,” he stated.


U.S. dairy farmers have sought extra income with second jobs, harvesting grain and dabbling in genetics by promoting cows, bulls and embryos.

Many farmers could not get by with out such facet jobs, stated Julie Brodeur of West Kingston, Rhode Island. Brodeur and her brothers, fourth-generation dairy farmers, give up the enterprise in March after their 70-cow operation stopped producing sufficient revenue to maintain the cows fed.

“You borrow some more and then you pay everything off,” Brodeur stated. “And you think everything is going good. And then you’re back in the hole.”

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