News & Resources

NMPF Backs Section 232 Reform to Help Restore Beneficial Trading Partnerships

March 6, 2019

Using every tool at its disposal to combat the threat of retaliatory tariffs that damage U.S. dairy’s domestic health and ability to expand sales abroad, NMPF wasted little time endorsing bipartisan legislation introduced in each chamber of Congress to reform the Section 232 process, which governs tariffs imposed in the name of national security.

Section 232 tariffs imposed on aluminum and steel imports under the guise of national security concerns have led to a wide range of U.S. exports, including dairy products, being hit with tariffs, causing more than $1 billion in income losses to dairy farmers in 2018, according to NMPF and other studies. Legislation introduced by Representatives Ron Kind (D-WI) and Jackie Walorski (R-IN) in the House of Representatives and Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Doug Jones (D-AL) in the Senate attempts to ensure that Section 232 is used as intended by Congress, for true national emergencies and in service of the national interest.

NMPF quickly endorsed the Trade Security Reform Act on Feb. 6, after its introduction.

“Dairy prices have steadily fallen since Mexico imposed its retaliatory tariffs, harming farmers,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation. “Exports to our most important market are being threatened, hurting dairy businesses and the thousands of Americans they employ.”

The Trade Security Reform Act tightens Section 232 rules to ensure it is only used to respond to genuine national security threats while taking into consideration a broad range of economic and security concerns. This legislation also expands the oversight role Congress plays in the process by allowing for a congressional resolution of disapproval of Section 232 action.

Removing the retaliatory tariffs on dairy and addressing how Section 232 power may be wielded is an urgent priority for NMPF, which is why we have asked policymakers to take immediate action. NMPF considers the legislation a good step toward preserving Section 232 powers while ensuring this tool is used effectively to combat national security threats.

NMPF staff also communicated the urgency to resolve Sec. 232 tariffs and Mexico’s retaliatory response to officials from Mexico’s new government earlier last month in meetings with the new Mexican government. Staff met with government officials from Mexico’s ministries of Agriculture, Foreign Affairs, and Economy to stress the importance of restoring the U.S.-Mexico trade relationship to normal conditions.

NMPF will continue to work to encourage both sides to move swiftly to resume normal trading conditions and to improve the rules underpinning this process moving forward.