Minnesota farmer Paul Fritsche can no longer afford health insurance as he struggles to sustain a dairy farm that has been in his family for nearly a century.
With U.S. milk prices in the fourth year of a slump due to chronic oversupply, Fritsche, 58, is unsure whether he will be able to pass his 30-cow farm onto his sons and grandsons.
“Do you pull the plug? We’ve been at it for 90 years,” he said. “I’d hate to lose that.”
The dairy industry was a sticking point in the contentious renegotiations of the free trade deal between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico that concluded last month.
U.S. President Donald Trump demanded concessions from the protected Canadian dairy industry and said on Twitter that Canada was hurting U.S. farmers with high tariffs. After Canada gave some ground, Trump claimed a big victory and said farmers would have more export options.
But Canada opened less than 4 percent of its dairy market to U.S. farmers— a concession unlikely to make much of a dent in U.S. oversupply or improve the lot of farmers such as Fritsche, producers on both sides of the border say.
With Wisconsin alone producing more milk than is consumed in all of Canada, the additional market access provides little comfort.
The average price that dairy plants pay U.S. farmers for milk fell from a peak of $25 per hundred pounds (45.36 kilograms) in 2014 to about $16 now, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Read more in Reuters.