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Dairy Groups Seek Swift Resolution of NAFTA Trucking Dispute with Mexico

May 5, 2011

NMPF and the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) hailed the recent release by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) of proposed details for the phased implementation of a long-haul, cross-border trucking program between the United States and Mexico, a program that the department says emphasizes safety, while satisfying international obligations of the United States.

In a letter to House Speaker Boehner, House Minority Leader Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Reid and Senate Minority Leader McConnell, NMPF and USDEC urged all members of Congress to support swift progress towards putting in place an agreed-upon resolution so that the retaliatory tariffs can be lifted and trade can be normalized in Mexico, the number one export market for U.S. dairy products.

The trucking program is crucial to the U.S. dairy sector, since many U.S. cheese exports have been subjected to legally-imposed retaliatory tariffs by Mexico since last August. As a result, shipments of the targeted cheeses fell by 60 percent between August 2010 and February 2011, the latest month of available data.

The DOT announcement represents the first critical step towards resolution laid out by Presidents Obama and Calderon in early March. As DOT reaffirmed today, the plan calls for a 30-day comment period once the Federal Register Notice is published this week, followed by a period of approximately 30 days for DOT to assess comments. Subsequently, DOT will publish a Final Federal Register Notice addressing comments received and describing the implementation process of the project. Once a final agreement is signed—estimated to take place in approximately 60 days—Mexico will suspend its retaliatory tariffs on all products by 50 percent and then will suspend the remaining 50 percent when the first Mexican carrier is approved to cross the border.

Valued at $837 million last year, Mexico is the largest dairy export market for the U.S. Making the most of this market, as well as others around the world, is vital to supporting the dairy producer community.