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NMPF Champions President’s Export Council Recommendations after Canada Disappointment

December 6, 2023

The President’s Export Council approved an agricultural trade proposal introduced by NMPF member Land O’Lakes at a Nov. 29 council meeting. The unanimous decision followed a Nov. 27 letter of support coordinated by NMPF and the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and signed by 35 leading agricultural organizations.

The approved proposal calls on the administration to diversify the U.S. agricultural supply chain, establish a robust agricultural trade agenda, enforce existing trade agreements, and lead on international climate initiatives.

The President’s Export Council is the primary White House advisory committee on international trade. It includes a broad mix of groups, with Land O’Lakes being the sole agricultural voice. To build support for the recommendations, the letter highlighted the importance of agricultural trade for the U.S. economy and the indispensable role that American agriculture plays in achieving global food security.

With a projected food and agriculture trade deficit of $17 billion for 2023, the letter calls on the administration to implement the recommendations and provide the U.S food and agriculture industry an opportunity to meet growing international demand.

The need to prioritize proper enforcement of trade agreements became especially timely after a U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) dispute panel ruling issued Nov. 24 that will allow Canada to continue to restrict market access for U.S. dairy products, weakening the agreement’s principles.

The ruling follows nearly two years of NMPF advocacy and collaboration with the U.S. Trade Representative and U.S. Department of Agriculture aimed at enforcing USMCA’s dairy provisions.

An earlier panel ruled in January 2022 that Canada had improperly restricted access for U.S. dairy products. In response, Canada made inadequate changes to its dairy tariff rate quota system, resulting in a second challenge by the United States. The decision means Canada is not obligated to make further changes, a disappointment to U.S. dairy farmers and exporters.

“It is profoundly disappointing that the dispute settlement panel has ruled in favor of obstruction of trade rather than trade facilitation,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “Despite this independent panel’s adverse ruling, we’d like to thank the Biden Administration and the many members of Congress who supported us for their tireless pursuit of justice for America’s dairy sector. We urge Ambassador Tai and Secretary Vilsack to look at all available options to ensure that Canada stops playing games and respects what was negotiated.”

Despite the discouraging result, NMPF will continue to work with USTR and USDA to address Canada’s ongoing practices to depress U.S. imports and distort dairy trade.