Canada being urged to import more dairy

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) praised the Senate Finance Committee’s bipartisan leadership for urging Canada to allow more trade in agricultural products, including dairy, as an outcome of the negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership. If Canada is not willing to allow more dairy trade as a result of the TPP, it risks being left out of the agreement, according to the Senate members.

In a letter to Gary Doer, Canada’s ambassador to the United States, Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and senior Democrat Ron Wyden (D-OR) said Canada’s ability to “commit to significant and commercially meaningful market access for all remaining agricultural products, including dairy, will have a significant impact on Congress’ view of the final agreement. In fact, our support for a final TPP agreement that includes Canada is contingent on Canada’s ability to meet the TPP’s high standards.”

The letter from Hatch and Wyden echoed a similar appeal last week by 21 members of the House of Representatives led by Representatives Reid Ribble (R-WI) and Ron Kind (D-WI), as well as Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX). That letter also went to Canada’s ambassador to the U.S.

The letter comes at a pivotal time, as negotiators from across the Pacific are currently meeting in Hawaii to finalize key issues in the TPP talks, including agricultural trade.

NMPF and USDEC said the Senate letter reinforces the message that a vital element to achieving a balanced outcome in the TPP negotiations is increased access to that country’s dairy market. The two groups want significant increases in access to the Canadian and Japanese dairy markets, as well as ultimately a balance between these sizable new export gains and any new access to our market granted for New Zealand dairy farmers.

“Senators Hatch and Wyden are to be commended for adding their strong voices to the demand that Canada get serious about meeting this agreement’s market access obligations,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. “Canada’s highly protected dairy market is one of the final issues in the TPP, and so far its negotiators have refused to live up to their commitment to satisfactorily address it.”

“We fully agree with this clear Congressional message that if Canada is looking for a pass on the type of tough decisions that all other TPP countries are being asked to make, it is better to move TPP ahead without them,” added USDEC President Tom Suber. “Our dairy industry is willing to do its part, but Canada needs to do the same if it wants to be part of this agreement.”

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