Latest News

February a Month of Frustration on Trade Issues

March 7, 2014

February was an active month for NMPF on some frustrating trade issues. It opened with Russia blocking entry of a shipment of Chobani yogurt meant for U.S. athletes at the Sochi Olympics, which called attention to the years-long Russian ban on the entry of U.S. dairy products. And it ended with NMPF joining the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) in chiding Canada and Japan for dragging their feet in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations.

The Russian yogurt blockade was the latest manifestation of a three-year-old embargo of U.S. dairy products that has U.S. interests increasingly angry. A large shipment of Sochi-bound Chobani yogurt was refused entry, even though the company was a major sponsor of the U.S. Olympic team.

“Russia has turned a cold shoulder to many U.S. businesses trying to ship dairy products,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. “That’s despite three years of our trying to prove their safety.” Russia closed its market to U.S. dairy products in 2010 by changing what it required on a health certificate that accompanies dairy products imported into Russia and its Customs Union partners.

In the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, Canada and Japan have resisted allowing additional imports U.S. dairy products. After the latest round of talks, NMPF and USDEC issued a statement saying the United States should not allow the process to drag on indefinitely.

“It’s time to finish the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, including resolving the agricultural trade issues,” said USDEC President Tom Suber. “The principle of creating comprehensive market access is too important to this and future trade agreements. Therefore, if Japan and Canada are not committed to this goal, we need to move forward without them.”

NMPF’s Mulhern added that U.S. interests are ready to eliminate all tariffs on dairy products from both countries provided that Japan and Canada do the same. “If they are not willing to offer realistic market access to the United States, Japan and Canada are not serious about being part of TPP,” he said.