Baldwin urges federal investigation into trade barriers
U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin is pushing for an investigation into whether Wisconsin milk exports are being unfairly blocked and if trade agreements are being upheld
Baldwin called on U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Michael Froman to investigate new Canadian dairy pricing policies that could hurt dairy farmers and processors in Wisconsin.
Canada recently announced it will impose limitations on the importation of milk products and is considering further restrictions. The new policy would expand on the trade disruption caused by Ontario’s new Class IV pricing program, which preferences Canadian milk over dairy imports from the United States. Since the Ontario policy was implemented this spring, Wisconsin dairy plants have lost tens of millions of dollars in sales to Canada.
In response, Senator Baldwin and Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) sent a letter to the USDA and USTR urging investigations into whether U.S. exports are being unfairly blocked and pressing them to ensure that trade agreements are upheld.
“We are particularly concerned about reports that through these types of programs, Canada is moving to target New York and Wisconsin exports of ultrafiltered milk. Companies from our states inform us that they have already lost considerable export sales as a result of the Ontario dairy policy introduced this past spring. These reductions in export sales impact dairy manufacturers and their supplying farms in areas of our states that are unfortunately already struggling with depressed milk prices,” wrote the senators. “The dairy industry is extremely important to the rural economies in our states. Canadian barriers to U.S. dairy exports will worsen an already tough situation facing dairy farmers in the Northeast and Upper Midwest this year.”
Dairy processors and farmers in Wisconsin and across the country have issued statements of strong support for the senators’ action to advocate for American dairy products.
“Grassland Dairy Products Inc. is very appreciative of the interest and leadership Senator Baldwin has shown on the Canadian trade issue. The recent changes in Canada’s dairy policy have reduced our export of high quality Wisconsin dairy products by tens of millions of dollars. This directly impacts our company, our employees and our farmers,” said Leon Gregorich, Chief Executive Officer of Grassland Dairy Products Inc. in Wisconsin. “A further loss of this business would jeopardize highly skilled jobs in our local community and lower farm income in already depressed milk market. We hope that Senator Baldwin’s firm, but fair position on this trade issue will provide a positive impact on the dairy industry in Wisconsin.”
Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) says the letter comes at a critical time for both trade and the well-being of America’s dairy producers.
“We appreciate the Senators’ attention to the importance of holding one of our largest trading partners to its international commitments and the key role that the U.S. government must play in doing so,” he said.
Tom Suber, President of the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) sa ysCanada has built up a deeply problematic track record of instituting program after program to intentionally erect roadblocks to dairy imports.
“This volatile situation with a country that should be one of our most reliable trading partners, given the strength of the U.S.-Canada relationship, cannot continue to erode the investments that U.S. dairy companies have made in shipping to this market,” Suber said.
Senator Baldwin is a strong supporter of our Grown in Wisconsin economy and Wisconsin’s dairy farmers and producers. In July, Senator Baldwin joined a bipartisan, bicameral coalition of 60 lawmakers to call on the USDA to assist dairy producers struggling with declining milk prices. As a result, the USDA announced $11.2 million in financial assistance to American dairy producers enrolled in the 2016 Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy).