NMPF Works to Resolve EU Certification Barrier

As a result of significant advocacy and technical engagement by NMPF in collaboration with USDEC August yielded two major milestones in NMPF’s year-long work with the U.S. government to preserve workable access opportunities for U.S. dairy exports requiring EU certification.

NMPF met Aug. 3 with a broad U.S. interagency team regarding the U.S. government’s plan on implementing the new EU certificates. That meeting provided critical clarifications on the extent of the new requirements and – most importantly – reassurances that the process would not impose new burdens on U.S. dairy farmers and processors. USDA on Aug. 13 then published a summary of that information, outlining that the new EU certification process would simply entail verification that the milk used was either regulated as Grade “A” or under AMS’s milk for manufacturing program.

That announcement resolved the crux of the concern – whether the U.S. would be able to implement the new EU certificates in a non-burdensome manner. The hard-won victory followed months of painstaking discussions between U.S. and EU officials regarding the strength of the U.S. dairy system and the upheaval that would unfold from either upending trade or imposing onerous new requirements on U.S. dairy This recognition that the U.S. dairy regulatory reliably produces safe products that meet the underlying goals of EU regulations even though implementation differs is precisely what NMPF had hoped to see achieved with the EU and had advocated for throughout the past year.

That breakthrough on core issues was complemented by an Aug. 12 announcement that would delay implementation of the new requirements from Aug. 21 to Jan. 15. Throughout 2021, NMPF advocated strongly both for a workable resolution to the new EU requirements and for more time to implement them.

The extension will enable USDA to ensure that the AMS Dairy Program will have its new electronic Agriculture Trade Licensing and Attestation Solution (ATLAS) system ready to be used by U.S. dairy exporters to complete the EU’s new certificates by the time they are required on Jan. 15. NMPF continues to work with the U.S. government to help ensure for a smooth transition and will closely continue to monitor implementation of the new certification program to make sure it works as advertised.

NMPF Tackles EU Certification Issues

The European Commission announced proposed new certification requirements in July 2020 for a wide range of food products, including dairy, adding confusing and vague requirements that threaten to upend U.S.-EU dairy trade if left unremedied.

Since then, NMPF has been working closely with the U.S. Dairy Export Council on extensive efforts to partner with the U.S. government in seeking a successful resolution that rejects unreasonable EU documentation requests and preserves access to the EU market. On April 16, NMPF and USDEC sent a letter to USDA Secretary Vilsack and USTR Tai asking for enhanced engagement to secure a workable solution, underscoring the critical importance of preserving access to the EU market for U.S. dairy products and processed products that contain dairy.

Two sets of new requirements have posed concerns: revised import certificates for dairy products, and new certification requirements and importer attestation mandates for “composite products,” which are processed food products that contain ingredients both of animal and plant origin.

One earlier result of these efforts was the European Commission’s decision to delay the implementation date for use of both dairy and composite product certificates from April 21 to Aug. 20. This extension provided more time for U.S. government negotiations with the EU to address the remaining issues. The EU on April 19 also issued an important clarification for the new importer attestations for composite products to now allow for the use of pasteurized dairy ingredients from the United States in the production of those products. NMPF believes this should allow U.S. exports of these products to continue. Work continues on the remaining product areas.

NMPF and USDEC continue to hold regular discussions with federal officials about these issues to ensure that dairy certificates remain a priority for resolution in the U.S.  government’s engagement with the EU.