August 28, 2020

Gillibrand Joins Bipartisan Push To Enforce USMCA Dairy Provisions

Gillibrand: USMCA Dairy Provisions Must Be Adhered To In Order To Create Level Playing Field for New York’s Dairy Farmers

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, joined a bipartisan push to ensure key USMCA provisions for dairy farmers and Canadian dairy exports are enforced. In a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue and U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Ambassador Robert Lighthizer, Gillibrand and more than 20 Senate colleagues pushed the administration to hold Canadian and Mexican trade partners accountable to their commitments. The outlined provisions are crucial to creating a level playing field for dairy farmers in New York and across the country. The letter, led by U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-MN) and Mike Crapo (R-ID), reiterated concerns recently made by House colleagues.

“Dairy is New York’s primary agricultural product, but poor implementation of USMCA provisions on dairy could continue to harm the industry,” said Senator Gillibrand. ”I am calling on Secretary Perdue and USTR Ambassador Lighthizer to hold our trading partners accountable and ensure equitable practices for America’s dairy farmers. I will always fight for New York’s dairy industry in the Senate, and I’ll do everything in my power to make sure our dairy farmers have access to fair trade opportunities.”

Full text of the letter can be found here and below.

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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,