August 26, 2020

U.S. Senators Mike Crapo and Tina Smith Lead Bipartisan Group in Calling for Enforcement of USMCA Dairy Provisions

Washington, D.C. -- Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Senator Tina Smith (D-Minnesota) led a bipartisan group of 25 Senators in sending a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue and U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer urging enforcement of United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) dairy provisions. 

“Fair market access for American dairy farmers was a key pillar of the USMCA’s agriculture section,” the Senators wrote in their letter.  “USMCA is poised to create new export opportunities for America’s dairy industry and a more equitable playing field for American dairy exports in Mexico and Canada, but effective implementation will be critical to realizing these gains.” 

“Idaho’s dairy industry is the leading agricultural sector in the state, and our dairy farmers are proud to help drive economic growth in our rural communities.  However, our continued success depends on expanding opportunities for high-quality Idaho dairy exports.  Senator Crapo fought for fair trade rules and equitable market access in USMCA and is now leading the charge to ensure that the agreement brings home the full benefits it promised to Idaho dairy farmers.  Enforcement of USMCA’s modernized dairy trade provisions is needed now to maintain a bright future for Idaho dairy.” – Allan Huttema, dairy farmer from Parma, Idaho, and chairman of the Northwest Dairy Association/Darigold Board of Directors 

“Canada is our closest neighbor and an important international market for Minnesota dairy.  USMCA dismantles the unfair trade policies that have long prevented us from expanding our market access in Canada.  However, these trade wins will only materialize if Canada is held accountable to their commitments.  We appreciate the leadership of Senator Smith for working across the aisle to make sure that the hard-fought benefits of USMCA are fully realized for all of Minnesota’s dairy industry.” – Steve Schlangen, dairy farmer from Albany, Minnesota, and chairman of the Associated Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI) Board of Directors 

Additional signers of the letter include Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota), Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin), Cory Gardner (R-Colorado), Diane Feinstein (D-California), Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon), Deb Fischer (R-Nebraska), Patty Murray (D-Washington), Mike Rounds (R-South Dakota), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York), Roy Blunt (Missouri), Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania), Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona), Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire), Gary Peters (D-Michigan), Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan), Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and Michael Bennet (D-Colorado). 

Full text of the letter is below and can be downloaded HERE

August 25, 2020 

Secretary Sonny Perdue

U.S. Department of Agriculture

1400 Independence Avenue SW

Washington, DC 20250

 

Ambassador Robert Lighthizer

United States Trade Representative

600 17th Street Northwest

Washington, DC 20508 

Dear Secretary Perdue and Ambassador Lighthizer, 

Fair market access for American dairy farmers was a key pillar of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement’s (USMCA) agriculture section. USMCA is poised to create new export opportunities for America’s dairy industry and a more equitable playing field for American dairy exports in Mexico and Canada, but effective implementation will be critical to realizing these gains. 

We share the same concerns – outlined below – as expressed in a recent letter sent to the Administration by our colleagues in the House. 

Enforcement of USMCA’s dairy provisions is critical, and we ask you to ensure compliance in the following areas: 

  • Canadian dairy commitment compliance:
    • Dairy Tariff Rate Quota (TRQ) Administration: One of the most pressing priorities is how Canada handles its USMCA TRQ commitments. Unfortunately, Canada’s announced TRQ administration procedures appear to run counter to numerous USMCA provisions. Canada must administer its TRQs fairly and in a manner consistent with its obligations under USMCA; it cannot be allowed to administer TRQs in a manner that discourages utilization or restricts the ability of the U.S. dairy industry to completely fill the established TRQs at advantageous price points.
    • Elimination of Class 6 and 7: Another area of equally important concern is ensuring that the hard-fought benefits from USMCA’s elimination of Canada’s Class 6 and 7 milk pricing classes are fully realized. Canada must not be permitted to effectively recreate the harmful impacts of Canada’s highly trade-distortive Classes 6 and 7 milk pricing programs. Canada must implement its commitments to eliminate these programs with full transparency, clearly establish prices for any new classes based on the end use of dairy products, and ensure that export surcharges for certain dairy products are implemented properly.
  • Mexico common names commitment compliance:
    • Enforcement of Common Names Side Letters: There are important implementation issues for Mexico as well, namely the work needed to translate Mexico’s commitments via two USMCA side letters pertaining to commonly used cheese terms into practice in its regulations so that all prior users’ rights are upheld and that all the common cheese names specified under the agreement are respected. 

Given the importance of these provisions to our dairy farmers and to American dairy exports, we ask that you use USMCA’s enforcement measures, as appropriate, to hold our trading partners accountable to their trade commitments. It is imperative that Canada and Mexico deliver upon their agreed upon commitments related to dairy products. 

Sincerely,

 

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