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NMPF, Congress Demand Canada Meet USMCA Commitments

May 4, 2022

NMPF soundly rejected a Canadian proposal to “modify” its dairy tariff rate quota (TRQ) administration process in joint comments with USDEC to the Canadian government on April 19. The action follows a January dispute settlement ruling that Canada is not abiding to its market access commitments in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

NMPF’s comments outline how Canada’s TRQs fail to fulfill its dairy obligations including how Canada limits proposed TRQ allocations to Canadian processors and distributors based on dairy sales; how Canada excludes other dairy purchasers such as retailers from the system; and Canada’s lack of good regulatory practices designed to encourage effective use of the TRQs allocated to a given company.

NMPF called on Canada to “consider its larger interests” in the success of USMCA and modify its dairy TRQ allocation and administration policies to show its good faith toward USMCA.

Complementing this effort, NMPF worked with leading members of the U.S. House of Representatives on an April 5 bipartisan letter to Ambassador Katherine Tai and Secretary Tom Vilsack calling on the Biden administration to reject the proposal and ensure U.S. dairy producers are extended the market access that had been negotiated.

The letter was sent by Reps. Ron Kind (D-WI), Tom Reed (R-NY), Antonio Delgado (D-NY), Glenn Thompson (R-PA), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Dusty Johnson (R-SD), Jim Costa (D-CA), and David Valadao (R-CA), the same congressional leaders who successfully urged USTR to launch a dispute settlement case against Canada in May 2021.

“A deal’s a deal; it’s not too much to ask that our trading partners live up to their end of the bargain,” the letter stated. “That is why it is critical that this compliance stage of the USMCA dairy case demonstrate that the USMCA enforcement process works—not just to deliver the right finding, as it did in January, but to ensure faithful implementation of the overall agreement and drive real, tangible reforms that are seen on store shelves, to the benefit of American dairy producers and manufacturers, as intended.”

The House letter follows a March 4 letter from Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) to Ambassador Tai sharply criticizing the Canadian proposal. A similar bipartisan, bicameral letter was sent on April 6 from members of the Minnesota Congressional delegation, led by Rep. Michelle Fischbach (R-MN) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN) and Reps. Tom Emmer (R-MN), Angie Craig (D-MN) and Pete Stauber (R-MN) also joined the letter.

NMPF continues to work with these and other congressional offices to help ensure that Canada is held to account so that U.S. dairy farmers can reap USMCA’s full promised benefits.