OPINION A bipartisan group of Senators are calling on the Trump administration to enforce the dairy provisions in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. We wrote a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.
The letter states:
Secretary Perdue and Ambassador Lighthizer, fair-market access for American dairy farmers was a key pillar of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement’s agriculture section. The agreement 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 those gains.
We share the same concerns as expressed in a recent letter sent to the Administration by our colleagues in the House. Enforcement of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement’s dairy provisions is critical. We ask you to ensure compliance in the following areas.
Canadian dairy-commitment compliance
- Dairy tariff-rate-quota administration – One of the most pressing priorities is how Canada handles its tariff-rate-quota commitments. Unfortunately Canada’s announced tariff-rate-quota-administration procedures appear to run counter to numerous agreement provisions. Canada must administer its tariff-rate quotas fairly and in a manner consistent with its obligations under the agreement; it cannot be allowed to administer tariff-rate quotas in a manner that discourages utilization or restricts the ability of the U.S. dairy industry to completely fill the established tariff-rate quotas at advantageous price points.
- Elimination of Class 6 and 7 – Another area of equally important concern is ensuring that the hard-fought benefits from the agreement’s elimination of Canada’s Class 6 and 7 milk-pricing classes are fully realized. Canada must not be permitted to effectively recreate the harmful impacts of Canada’s greatly trade-distortive Class 6 and 7 milk-pricing programs. Canada must implement its commitments to eliminate those programs with full transparency, clearly establish prices for any new classes based on the end use of dairy products and ensure that export surcharges for certain dairy products are implemented properly.
Mexico common-names-commitment compliance
- Enforcement of common-name side letters – There are important implementation issues for Mexico as well – namely the work needed to translate Mexico’s commitments via two agreement side letters pertaining to commonly used cheese terms into practice in its regulations so all prior user rights are upheld and that all common cheese names specified under the agreement are respected.
Given the importance of those provisions to our dairy farmers and to American dairy exports, we ask that you use the agreement’s enforcement measures, as appropriate, to hold our trading partners accountable to their trade commitments. It’s imperative that Canada and Mexico deliver upon their agreed-upon commitments related to dairy products.