Agriculture Minister and US Agriculture Secretary to meet in P.E.I. barn

Agriculture Minister and US Agriculture Secretary to meet in P.E.I. barn

MIDGELL, P.E.I. — Amid escalating trade tensions between Canada and the United States, Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay is throwing open his barn door to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue for a meeting Friday on his family farm in northeastern Prince Edward Island.

The dairy farm will serve as a backdrop to bilateral talks expected to touch on Canada's system for controlling the price and supply of dairy, eggs and chicken — something the U.S. administration has made clear it wants abolished.

MacAulay said supply management has proven "an excellent system" for Canada and "we intend to make sure that it remains strong."

"We do have issues with the United States off and on," he said. "We'll have a chance to discuss the issues."

The meeting — on MacAulay's farm in Midgell, P.E.I., where he was born, raised and worked as a farmer — is a chance for the agriculture counterparts to discuss trade issues in a potentially more amicable setting.

"It's very important for agriculture ministers to meet in the barn," MacAulay said, noting there will be "Island hospitality" before they get down to business.

He said he shares an excellent rapport with Trump's agriculture secretary and that Perdue is a "free trader."

"What we intend to do is sit down and deal with the issues at hand and hopefully enhance the relationship and the trade deal between Canada and the U.S., and of course Mexico," MacAulay said, adding that trade between Canada and the U.S. quadrupled under NAFTA.

"We just want to make sure that things keep working properly... and we put a deal together that's right for both countries."

MacAulay and Perdue are also expected to board a lobster fishing boat near Cardigan, P.E.I., and go on a deep sea fishing tour before they visit a potato farm in Souris, P.E.I.

They're also expected to tour Greenwich National Park and have a "small social evening," MacAulay said.  

The one-day visit comes a year after MacAulay went to Savannah, Ga., for a trilateral meeting with Perdue and their Mexican counterpart, Secretary of Agriculture Jose Calzada.

— By Brett Bundale in Halifax.

The Canadian Press