Kirsten Gillibrand United States Senator for New York

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With Looming International Trade Agreement, Gillibrand Stands Up For New York Dairy Farmers

Gillibrand: “We Can’t Afford to Outsource Dairy Production”

January 12, 2010

Washington, DC – As the Obama Administration moves forward on creating a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement that could potentially include more dairy imports from New Zealand, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today urged the White House to consider New York and America’s own reeling dairy economy before outsourcing any dairy needs to other countries.

In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, Senator Gillibrand wrote, “As the representative of a major dairy producing state, I believe that any trade agreement with New Zealand should take these factors into account. Especially given that the U.S. dairy industry is currently facing a protracted pricing crisis, an improperly crafted deal could deal a severe blow to the industry. I am especially concerned about the long-term national security implications of losing our ability to produce food here at home.  We cannot outsource our dairy production to the lowest global bidder without risking the safety of our health and our local economies.”

“New York Farm Bureau’s dairy farm families greatly appreciate the efforts of Senator Gillibrand to make sure that the USTR understands the severe negative impacts of a proposed New Zealand Trans - Pacific Partnership to New York’s dairy industry.  While we generally  support trade agreements, we feel that they must be on a level playing field, and this proposed agreement is not.  It will not result in opportunities for our family farmers.” said Dean Norton, President of New York Farm Bureau.  “This proposed agreement will only put more financial stress on our struggling dairy farm families.”

New Zealand has an extremely high degree of concentration in their dairy industry. According to the Foreign Agriculture Service, one company holds control of 92 percent of milk production. With this domestic strength, this one New Zealand company controls more than 40 percent of global dairy trade. If U.S.-New Zealand dairy trade is included in the TPP, it would only benefit New Zealand’s dairy industry. Not only would America’s dairy producers and processors and supporting businesses lose billions, but it would only offer small additional market opportunities.

As the first New Yorker to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee in nearly 40 years, Senator Gillibrand has made New York’s dairy farmers a top priority. Since day one in office, Senator Gillibrand has worked hard to deliver more emergency resources to dairy farmers to pull them back from the brink of bankruptcy, and provide real, long-term solutions to fix outdated pricing structures, and provide long-term growth and stability for New York’s farm families.

Senator Gillibrand’s full letter to U.S. Trade Repetitive Ron Kirk is below:


The Honorable Ron Kirk
United States Trade Representative
Office of the President
600 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20508

 

Dear Ambassador Kirk:


In light of the recent notification that President Obama intends to proceed with negotiations to create the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, I commend you for your commitment to consulting closely with Congress as this trade agreement moves forward.  Such discussions, held early and often, are critical to ensuring that the final outcome reflects the concerns my colleagues and I have about the particulars of this new undertaking.

With that in mind, I would like to highlight my strong concerns about how the U.S.-New Zealand dairy trade in the Trans-Pacific Partnership could negatively impact New York’s dairy industry and its many supporting sectors within the state.

New Zealand has an extremely high degree of concentration in their dairy industry. One company holds control of 92% of milk production.  Given this situation of strength in its domestic market, this one company has been able to leverage that advantage into control of more than 40% of global dairy trade.

If U.S.-New Zealand dairy trade is included in the TPP, all of the benefits of that trade relationship would accrue to New Zealand’s dairy industry.  In exchange, America’s dairy producers and processors would face tremendous pressure and job losses, resulting in losses of billions of dollars to the U.S. dairy sector and supporting businesses.  To further worsen this situation, our dairy exporters do not even have the prospect of focusing on other significant new opportunities that the agreement would open up given that most other TPP participants are already U.S. FTA partners or else have relatively limited tariffs and offer only small additional market opportunities.

As the representative of a major dairy producing state, I believe that any trade agreement with New Zealand should take these factors into account. Especially given that the US dairy industry is currently facing a protracted pricing crisis, an improperly crafted deal could deal a severe blow to the industry. I am especially concerned about the long-term national security implications of losing our ability to produce food here at home.  We cannot outsource our dairy production to the lowest global bidder without risking the safety of our health and our local economies.

I greatly appreciate your commitment to working with those of us who have a strong interest in the TPP negotiations.  I look forward to further discussions with you and your staff about this agreement.


Sincerely,

Kirsten E. Gillibrand