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Dairy Groups Thank Senators for Urging Action on Agricultural Issues in TTIP Negotiations

May 6, 2016

NMPF thanked a bipartisan group of 26 senators last month for urging U.S. negotiators to address the needs of agriculture – including key dairy concerns – in the pending Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) free trade agreement with the European Union, which finished a round of negotiations in New York City at the end of the April.

In their letter to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, the senators noted that the United States’ share of the European agricultural import market is shrinking due to both tariff and non-tariff trade barriers.

“A final [trade] agreement that does not include a strong framework for agriculture could have a negative impact on Congressional support for this deal,” the senators said.

Among other agricultural issues, the letter singled out the need to address restrictive certification requirements on U.S. dairy exports, as well as the EU’s efforts to capture the sole use of food names long considered generic in this country, such as parmesan, feta and asiago. In addition, the EU is seeking a leg up on U.S. food competitors by insisting that the U.S. government shoulder the costs to enforce protection for hundreds of EU geographical indications in the U.S. domestic market.

Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF, praised the senators for highlighting agriculture’s concerns.

“In 2015, we had a record $12 billion agricultural trade deficit with Europe, due largely to barriers erected specifically to limit exports of dairy foods and other U.S. farm products,” Mulhern said. “Any successful European free trade agreement must break down those barriers. The U.S. needs to soundly reject the EU’s desire to impose new barriers to competition around the world and to create taxpayer-funded advantages for its producers in our market. We should be using T-TIP to level the playing field.”

Dairy Farmers of America, Inc., with the support of NMPF and the U.S. Dairy Export Council’s Trade Policy Committee Chair, met with U.S. trade negotiators at the New York City T-TIP negotiations to discuss the importance of defending common food names and removing certain EU barriers to U.S. dairy exports. The next round of TTIP negotiations is scheduled for July.