Newsline: Washington Watch
Trade Group Scrutinizes MPC UseThe International Trade Commission has begun sending out detailed questionnaires to cheese manufacturers, asking about their use of milk protein concentrates (MPC), casein, caseinates and other dairy proteins in their production. The surveys appear to be part of the government's ongoing investigation to determine the impact of these imports on the U.S. dairy protein market.
The probe was launched under provisions of the Tariff Act, at the request of Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA). The issue has emerged as one of the major points of contention this year between dairy producers and manufacturers. The National Milk Producers Federation has been vocal in its claim that MPC exporters and U.S. manufacturers have exploited a loophole in trade rules to the detriment of domestic producers.
NMPF recently reported that MPC imports this year are up 39% from year-earlier levels, totaling 26,270 metric tons.
"The rapid growth in MPC imports this year again demonstrates the vulnerability of the U.S. dairy marketplace to products that have benefited from international trade loopholes for almost a decade," said Jerry Kozak, President and CEO of NMPF. "The unfettered access of MPC and casein to our market points out the need for both a drastic change in future World Trade Organization rules, and also the need for the U.S. Congress to pass legislation that will address these products." While producers are lobbying for a law that would impose tariff rate quotas on imports of MPC and casein, the International Dairy Foods Assn., is pushing just as vigorously against the proposed legislation. IDFA's senior v.p. for international and regulatory affairs, Greg Frazier, urged manufacturers who receive an ITC survey to complete it and returning it as quickly as possible, saying "solid facts" will lead investigators to reach the right conclusion.