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NMPF Board Member Testifies Before Congress on USMCA

August 2, 2021

NMPF Board of Directors member and Idaho dairy producer Allan Huttema testified July 27 before the Senate Finance Committee on U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement implementation and the importance of subsequent enforcement for dairy provisions.

Huttema, who also serves as chair of the Darigold and Northwest Dairy Association boards, highlighted the need for close monitoring of USMCA trade partners’ implementation of the trade deal – including Canada’s dairy tariff rate quota allocations and milk protein exports, and Mexico’s integration of common cheese name protections and its troubling increase of unwarranted regulatory barriers. During his testimony, he also stressed the critical importance of building on the progress initiated with USMCA by pursuing additional agreements with key dairy markets such as the United Kingdom and various Asian markets.

“It has been a very long time since Congress passed a new free trade agreement, aside from USMCA for which we are very grateful,” Huttema said in his testimony. “Our industry needs new trade agreements with key export markets to counter our competitors, namely the EU and New Zealand. As our competition continues to ink new trade deals, the United States is increasingly left in the dust.”

NMPF worked closely with Huttema and Northwest Dairy Association/Darigold to help strongly spotlight the dairy industry’s priorities and concerns during the hearing. Seven committee members raised dairy issues throughout the hearing including robust comments of support in the opening remarks of the Committee’s Chairman and Ranking Member. The Senators’ comments spanned the gamut including Canada compliance concerns, Mexican nontariff barrier issues, broader market access goals, and common names threats.

“NMPF and the dairy producers it represents are grateful to the Senate Finance Committee for inviting Allan to discuss the benefits that the USMCA has brought U.S. dairy producers and cooperatives,” said Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of NMPF. “But as Huttema said so well, adequate enforcement is necessary to ensure American dairy producers are provided the access promised in the agreement. We are grateful to the Senate Finance Committee members for their advocacy in support of the recently initiated dispute settlement proceedings over Canada’s dairy tariff rate quotas (TRQs) – a critical step in enforcement of this agreement.”