A bipartisan group of 25 senators sent a letter on Aug. 26 identifying challenges with implementing several dairy-related provisions in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Underscoring USMCA’s importance to the dairy industry, the letter asks the U.S. government to use USMCA’s enforcement measures to ensure full compliance with the trade deal, according to the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and National Milk Producers Federation, both based in Arlington, Va.
The letter, led by Sens. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), was sent to the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office and USDA. It reads, in part:
“As negotiated, the USMCA will create new export opportunities for America’s dairy industry and creates an equitable playing field for American dairy exports in Mexico and Canada. Given the importance of these provisions to our dairy farmers and to American dairy exports, we ask that you use USMCA’s enforcement measures 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.”
USDE and NMPF said they commend the coalition of senators for standing up for America’s dairy farmers, processors and exporters and pressing for fair and full implementation of USMCA’s dairy provisions.
“Canada has already begun implementing USMCA in a way that thwarts its market access promises and prevents U.S. dairy from making full use of the benefits that Congress and the Administration fought so hard to secure,” said Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of USDEC. “There are also unanswered questions concerning how Mexico will translate its commitments to safeguard common name cheeses into action.
“These are unresolved concerns that affect everyday dairy farmers and workers across our industry,” he added. “I appreciate Senator Smith and Senator Crapo’s proactive engagement and leadership on this letter underscoring that USMCA provides the tools necessary to take enforcement measures now.”
Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF, also called out the need for timely and complete enforcement.
“This letter sends a strong message to Canada and Mexico: Efforts to maintain unjust trade practices or block market access will not be tolerated,” he said. “This bipartisan support for fairer dairy trade in North America also demonstrates not only the importance of exports to America’s dairy farmers, but the key role that dairy plays in our national economy. Thank you, Senator Smith and Senator Crapo, for your leadership and support of a critical industry.”
Earlier this month, a bipartisan coalition of 104 Representatives also sent a letter urging the U.S. government to fully enforce USMCA.