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Dairy Industry Applauds USTR Action to Address Canadian TRQ Violations

December 9, 2020

The U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) applaud today’s announcement that the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) will initiate official consultations with Canada to examine the administration of its dairy Tariff Rate Quota (TRQ) obligations. The two organizations, with strong bipartisan backing from Congress, have long raised the alarm about the need to ensure the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is fully enforced, due to Canada’s history of undermining its trade commitments.

“USMCA is designed to improve trade with Canada, while modifying some of Canada’s trade-distorting dairy policies. We knew from day one that enforcement would be key to bringing the intended benefits home to America’s dairy industry. I applaud USTR for hearing our concerns and relying on our guidance to take this critical enforcement step to ensure that the agreement is executed in both letter and spirit,” said Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of USDEC. “This is the critical first step, but more work may be needed to ensure Canada complies with its Class 7 related USMCA commitments as well.”

Even prior to its entry into force, USDEC and NMPF monitored Canada’s actions regarding its USMCA commitments and urged Congress and the administration to make this a priority as soon as USMCA entered into force. Canada has distorted its TRQ administration to limit imports from the U.S. Earlier this year, USDEC and NMPF highlighted for USTR and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) the inconsistencies between Canada’s dairy TRQ allocations and Canada’s USMCA obligations. In a detailed filing submitted to the administration, NMPF and USDEC provided the agencies with a specific legal review of the Canadian TRQ system and an explanation of the negative impacts resulting from them.

“America’s dairy farmers appreciate USTR’s commitment to the fair and transparent enforcement of USMCA. Enforcement has been one of the top priorities of our industry since the final agreement was announced, and we’ve worked diligently to ensure that it remains one of USTR’s top priorities, as well. Only when Canada is held fully accountable to its trade commitments will America’s dairy farmers be able to realize the full benefit of the provisions that the U.S. government worked so hard to secure,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “We look forward to working closely with the incoming administration as well since enforcement efforts are likely to require sustained focus going forward.”

The concerns raised by USDEC and NMPF have been echoed by a broad bipartisan coalition of members of Congress. In August, 104 Representatives sent a letter to USTR and USDA asking for Canada to be held accountable to its trade promises while a letter in the Senate was signed by 25 Senators. USDEC and NMPF commend the continued engagement of so many members of Congress on this important issue.