Friday, February 25, 2022

Cheese importers say little will change

Three weeks after Canada filed its response to the victorious dairy-industry challenge the United States filed against Canada’s import practices, the Biden administration has not said what it intends to do.

But Canadian importers who want a piece of the action told AgriPulse they don’t expect the Canadian government, under heavy influence from the dairy lobby, has offered much.

“Basically the (Canadian) government is completely beholden to the domestic producer and processor lobby,” said Karl Littler, a senior vice president for the Retail Council of Canada, an organization that represents companies that want more access to U.S. products such as cheese. 

“In this case we are cheering on the U.S. government as it pushes to actually have some of the free trade benefits go to (Canadian) consumers rather than producers and processors,” he said.

But the Canadian government didn’t seek the council’s opinions, nor those of the International Cheese Council of Canada.

Pat Pelliccione, chairman of the International Cheese Council of Canada and president of the Ontario-based importing company Jan K. Overweel Ltd., said the Canadian government is scared of the potential for the U.S. to retaliate, but stressed that he is still skeptical that Canada will make any substantial changes to its quota policy.

“My past experience is they’re going to try to get around it in any way they can,” Pelliccione said about the Canadian government and any meaningful reform that opens up the market there to more U.S. cheese.


“What processors do with the licenses they’ve been given is they will call people like myself and they will rent the license for a fee,” he said. “Your access is actually costing you money. We have to pay upwards of $1.50 per pound for license access so we can bring in U.S. cheese.,” he said.

What do you think might happen because our politicians heed the dairy lobby and poke a finger in the eagle's eye?