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Dairy Farmer Testifies Before House Subcommittee on Importance of Expanding Exports Opportunities and Fair Rules

March 10, 2020

Connecticut dairy farmer, James “Cricket” Jacquier, testified today before the House Committee on Agriculture’s Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture in order to provide a dairy stakeholder perspective on agricultural trade. Jacquier is Chairman of the Board for Agri-Mark, a dairy cooperative comprised of 850 farm families across New England and New York. Agri-Mark is a member of the National Milk Producers Federation and the U.S. Dairy Export Council, which work together to advance dairy trade policy for the industry.

In his testimony, Jacquier urged Congress to work with the Administration to use negotiating resources wisely to target important agricultural markets and create greater access for U.S. dairy products with key trading partners. He noted that careful and proactive attention to the implementation and enforcement of negotiated trade agreements, such as USMCA, will be critical in the coming year, emphasizing in particular the importance of ironing out details pertaining to new export access and Class 7 related dairy policy reforms with Canada, and common cheese name safeguards with Mexico as USMCA progresses.

Regarding GIs, Jacquier also raised concerns with the European Union’s (EU) efforts to misuse geographical indication to instead confiscate common food names, such as parmesan, feta and asiago, as well as wine and meat terms.

“America’s dairy farmers applaud the certainty that lowered tariffs and fairly negotiated trade agreements bring to our industry. However, if we cannot combat outrageous nontariff barriers, such as those the EU is manufacturing to block the export of American-made cheeses, these trade wins can ring hollow. The EU’s stance on common food names is a protectionist and anti-trade policy and it must be firmly rejected by Congress and by U.S. trade officials at every turn,” Jacquier said.

Dairy farmers, manufacturers and rural communities rely on the economic benefits provided by dairy exports. In 2019, America’s dairy industry exported more than $6 billion in dairy products ranging from cheese to ice cream to milk powders. Trade disputes and a lack of market access comparable to our competitors has significantly harmed the dairy industry, contributing to a 15% decline in dairy farms over the past two years, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data.

You can find Jacquier’s submitted testimony here.