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Smith, Crapo Lead Push to Enforce USMCA Dairy Provisions
Pennsylvania Ag Connection - 08/27/2020

U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) led a bipartisan group of 23 Senators in calling for the enforcement of United States-Mexico-Canada Free Trade Agreement (USMCA) dairy provisions.

In a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue and U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Ambassador Robert Lighthizer, the Senators said that holding trade partners accountable to their trade commitments is critical to supporting dairy farmers and American dairy exports.

In addition to Smith and Crapo, the other senators included Kirsten Gillibrand, James E. Risch, Debbie Stabenow, Joni K. Ernst, Patrick Leahy, Cory Gardner, Jeanne Shaheen, Thom Tillis, Kyrsten Sinema, Jerry Moran, Gary C. Peters, Deb Fischer, Robert P. Casey Jr., Roy Blunt, Patty Murray, Ron Johnson, Jeffrey A. Merkley, M. Michael Rounds, Amy Klobuchar, Tammy Baldwin, Ron Wyden, Dianne Feinstein and Michael F. Bennet.

"Fair market access for American dairy farmers was a key pillar of the USMCA's agriculture section," the Senators wrote. "USMCA is poised to create new export opportunities for America's dairy industry and a more equitable playing field for American dairy exports in Mexico and Canada, but effective implementation will be critical to realizing these gains."

"Canada is our closest neighbor and an important international market for Minnesota dairy. USMCA dismantles the unfair trade policies that have long prevented us from expanding our market access in Canada. However, these trade wins will only materialize if Canada is held accountable to their commitments. We appreciate the leadership of Senator Smith for working across the aisle to make sure that the hard-fought benefits of USMCA are fully realized for all of Minnesota's dairy industry," said Steve Schlangen, dairy farmer from Albany, Minn., and chairman of the Associated Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI) Board of Directors.

"Idaho's dairy industry is the leading agricultural sector in the state, and our dairy farmers are proud to help drive economic growth in our rural communities. However, our continued success depends on expanding opportunities for high-quality Idaho dairy exports. Senator Crapo fought for fair trade rules and equitable market access in USMCA and is now leading the charge to ensure that the agreement brings home the full benefits it promised to Idaho dairy farmers. Enforcement of USMCA's modernized dairy trade provisions is needed now to maintain a bright future for Idaho dairy," said Allan Huttema, dairy farmer from Parma, Idaho, and chairman of the Northwest Dairy Association/Darigold Board of Directors.

The U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) commend the coalition of Senators for standing up for America's dairy farmers, processors and exporters and pressing for fair and full implementation of USMCA's dairy provisions.

"Canada has already begun implementing USMCA in a way that thwarts its market access promises and prevents U.S. dairy from making full use of the benefits that Congress and the Administration fought so hard to secure. There are also unanswered questions concerning how Mexico will translate its commitments to safeguard common name cheeses into action. These are unresolved concerns that affect everyday dairy farmers and workers across our industry. I appreciate Senator Smith and Senator Crapo's proactive engagement and leadership on this letter underscoring that USMCA provides the tools necessary to take enforcement measures now," said Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of USDEC.

"Timely and complete enforcement of USMCA's dairy-related provisions will allow America's dairy industry to harness the full potential of this modernized trade agreement. This letter sends a strong message to Canada and Mexico: Efforts to maintain unjust trade practices or block market access will not be tolerated. This bipartisan support for fairer dairy trade in North America also demonstrates not only the importance of exports to America's dairy farmers, but the key role that dairy plays in our national economy. Thank you, Senator Smith and Senator Crapo, for your leadership and support of a critical industry," said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF.

Earlier this month, a bipartisan coalition of 104 Representatives also sent a letter urging the U.S. government to fully enforce USMCA.

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