President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met on the sidelines of the G-7 summit's final day on Saturday. While bilateral trade issues were discussed, it appears the recent spat over Canadian dairy products didn't come up.
Regardless, the status of NAFTA looms large for both countries, with much bigger things than milk or lumber hanging in the balance. The Trump administration formally notified Congress May 18 that it would initiate negotiations with Canada and Mexico to modernize NAFTA. That sets into motion a 90-day countdown for the first formal round of negotiations, and the administration expects to hold the first such talks no earlier than Aug. 16.
U.S. agriculture leaders are closely watching efforts to change the 23-year-old agreement, which some claim is unfair to American producers of dairy as well as fresh produce growers. Others, however, disagree: They suggest the North American Free Trade Agreement's benefits include increasing overall trade and boosting demand for U.S. pork, corn and even California wine.
The Trump administration has accused Canada of essentially shutting out U.S. dairy producers in so-called ultrafiltered milk, which is used to make cheese, yogurt and ice cream. The president called the Canadian action "a disgrace" in April and also tweeted about it: "Canada has made business for our dairy farmers in Wisconsin and other border states very difficult."
Canadians reject claims the incentives they have to buy domestic milk concentrates are protectionism and argue they shouldn't be blamed for excess milk capacity by American dairy producers.