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Donald Trump launches nonsensical rant about Canada selling milk to the US

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Donald Trump has been accused of misunderstanding the fundamentals of an ongoing trade spat between the US and Canada over dairy farming tariffs.

The Republican leader announced he would “address” Canadian milk imports and would allow US farmers to “start selling milk in our country.”

However his claims have been lambasted as making “no sense at all”, with many highlighting the minimal amount of Canadian dairy exported to the US – estimated at $112.6 million (£87m) in 2016 compared to the $631.6 million (£493m) of US dairy exports to Canada.

“It’s going to mean that farmers are going to start selling milk in our country,” Mr Trump told a group of Conservative reporters, according to Breitbart News.

One user wrote on Twitter: “Trump was talking about Canadian dairy exports. They barely exist. We have a hermetically sealed industry. On dairy, we are North Korea.”

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 criticised by other dairy-producing countries and the US President had promised to defend American dairy farmers hurt by the country’s protectionist trade.

However industry group Dairy Farmers of Canada blamed US milk producers building far too much capacity in recent years, forcing them to confront an oversupply of milk and resulting in cut backs.

“To use a phrase that has recently come out of the US, Wisconsin farmers are using alternative facts,” the group’s director of communications and government Isabelle Bouchard said.

“The Wisconsin people are trying to find an enemy – when in reality the problem they have is that they’re overproducing.”

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also lashed out at the remarks, telling Bloomberg: “The US has a $400 million dairy surplus with Canada so it’s not Canada that’s the challenge here.”

Speaking at a cheese-making factory in Wisconsin, Mr Trump vowed to stand up for US dairy farmers.

“We’re also going to stand up for our dairy farmers,” he said. “Because in Canada some very unfair things have happened to our dairy farmers and others.”

He also reiterated a threat to eliminate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico if it cannot be changed.

“We love Canada, wonderful people, wonderful country, but they have been very good about taking advantage of us through NAFTA,” he said.

US dairy industry groups want to see the former real estate mogul challenge Canada’s pricing policy that has disrupted some US dairy exports, and prioritise dairy market access in NAFTA renegotiation talks.

Additional reporting by Reuters.

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