Members of Congress representing dairy districts from across the country joined together on July 8 to send a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. The letter asks them to work together to build on the successes secured in a Phase One agreement with Japan and swiftly pursue a Phase Two agreement that addresses any remaining gaps and inequalities in market access and establishes robust commitments on non-tariff issues that can significantly impact dairy trade, according to the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF).
This bipartisan letter was led by Reps. Ron Kind (D-Wis.), Lloyd Smucker (R-Pa.), Josh Harder (D-Calif.) and Roger Marshall (R-Kan.). They were joined by numerous House colleagues, the dairy organizations said, amounting to 51 in total, writing, in part:
“Given the fact that our domestic market is a top destination for Japanese exports, Japan must ensure that the terms of trade offered to the United States are better than those offered to other, less valuable, markets. We wholeheartedly endorse Ambassador Lighthizer’s assessment during his testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee in June 2019: ‘You cannot treat your best customer worse than you treat people from all these other countries in Europe and all the other TPP countries.’”
Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of Arlington, Va.-based NMPF, said the U.S. dairy industry is prepared to meet growing demand in Japan for dairy products.
“However, in order to fully secure necessary market access, the U.S. must act swiftly to break down the remaining trade barriers that have left our producers at a disadvantage in this important dairy market,” he said. “America’s dairy farmers applaud the leadership and engagement of Congressmen Kind, Smucker, Harder and Marshall and their colleagues as they advocate for America’s dairy industry in a fully comprehensive agreement with Japan.”
A 2019 U.S. Dairy Export Council study underscored the importance of a strong comprehensive trade agreement with Japan, the dairy organizations said, finding that if the U.S. were given the same market access as our competitors, we could roughly double our share of the dairy market.
“Congress has made their message clear: A comprehensive agreement with Japan is needed to secure additional opportunities for U.S. dairy and progress should resume on its pursuit,” said Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of Arlington, Va.-headquartered USDEC. “The Japanese market is too valuable to America’s dairy farmers and processors to let trade negotiations continue to idle. We appreciate this bipartisan coalition for their robust support of securing additional tariff concessions, science-based sanitary and phytosanitary measures, and enforceable commitments to protect common cheese names.”