In an Aug. 1 letter to United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue, the Washington, D.C.-based International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), Arlington, Va., and Arlington, Va.-based U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) flagged two issues the groups called “critically important to the U.S. dairy industry.” The groups asked that the issues be considered before renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement concludes.
The first issue is new potential geographical indication restrictions within Mexico. The restrictions would be a major barrier for many U.S. cheese varieties if the European Union gets its way, the groups said. Mexico is the United States’ largest dairy export market, accounting for more than $400 million in cheese in 2017 alone.
The second issue is Canada’s Class 7 milk pricing scheme. A meaningful resolution to that scheme “is essential to ensuring that all dairy exports reach their fullest potential,” the groups noted.
“Finally, we have been carefully following the discussions with the EU on other issues unrelated to agriculture,” the groups wrote. “As you know very well, Europe prevents the importation of many dairy products through numerous tariffs and nontariff barriers, with geographical indications as probably one of the most detrimental actions against free commerce. We urge you to bring these concerns to the president’s attention as trade discussions with the EU and our North American neighbors continue.”