Newsline: Washington Watch
No Agreement on MPC IssueDairy processors and milk producers are lining up on opposite sides of proposed legislation that would restrict the flow of imported dairy proteins into the U.S. The Milk Import Tariff Equity Act (MITEA) of 2003 would impose Tariff-Rate Quotas (TRQs) on imports of milk protein concentrate, and casein products intended for use in the food and animal feed industries.
The National Milk Producers Federation has been one of the prime movers behind the legislation. NMPF President and CEO Jerry Kozak says legislation is key to any recovery in what he called “crushingly-low milk prices.” “Any recovery in milk prices will be hampered unless Congress does something about these imports,” he added.
Dairy manufacturers see it differently. The International Dairy Foods Assn. says the legislation would increase the costs of ingredients in a wide array of consumer food products by an estimated $150 million a year, leading to overall higher consumer costs. IDFA said putting up new barriers to imported MPCs, caseins, and caseinates, which are not produced domestically, would violate U.S. international trade agreements, leaving exporting countries free to retaliate against U.S. goods, including non-dairy agricultural exports. Bottom line, the group says, the legislation could boomerang on the very people it’s designed to protect, and jeopardize millions of dollars in American farmer income.
MPC, casein, and caseinates are dairy ingredients that are valued for their specialized properties. Manufacturers say they cannot be replaced with nonfat dry milk.
The Senate version of the bill (S.560) has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee. The House version (H.R. 1160) was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee.