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Stephen Mihm

Milk Wars Curdled U.S.-Canada Relationship Long Ago

Trump blames Canada, but both sides have been fighting dirty since the 1930s.
Turning up the heat.

Turning up the heat.

Photographer: Elisabeth Schmitt via Getty Images

Donald Trump sent much of the presidential campaign vilifying Mexico. More recently, he has shifted his attention to the north, assailing Canada for unfair trade practices. In the past few days, he has slapped a retaliatory tariff on softwood lumber imports and threatened Canada’s dairy industry. "We will not stand for this," Trump tweeted. "Watch!"

Neither industry falls under Nafta, and with good reason: Both countries have propped up these industries for decades and aren’t eager to throw them on the mercies of free trade. The dairy business is an especially sheltered industry in Canada, known among the bovine cognoscenti as the “milk cartel.”