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Senators urge investigation into Canada dairy policies

Ontario dairy policy introduced this past spring already causing lost export sales to U.S. dairy producers.

In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Sens. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and Tammy Baldwin (D., Wis.) expressed concern about Canada's recently announced National Ingredients Strategy and its already active Ontario Class VI pricing program. According to the senators, these programs incentivize Canadian processors to use Canadian milk and dairy inputs and penalize them for using imported dairy products.

The U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) praised the senators for urging an investigation into Canadian dairy pricing policies that have affected trade and stand to negatively affect U.S. dairy farmers and manufacturers, jeopardizing Canada’s trade commitment to the U.S.

“We are particularly concerned about reports that, through these types of programs, Canada is moving to target New York and Wisconsin exports of ultra-filtered milk,” the senators said in their letter. “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 types of programs are intended to discourage the use of U.S. dairy exports, the senators said, potentially worsening an already challenging economic situation for American dairy farmers.

Schumer and Baldwin also voiced their concern that implementing the new National Ingredients Strategy across Canada could raise further compliance issues with Canada’s obligations under the North American Free Trade Agreement and the World Trade Organization by “impeding dairy trade” between the two countries.

Jim Mulhern, president and chief executive officer of NMPF, commended the senators for their push to have Canada’s policies evaluated, saying: “This 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.”

Tom Suber, president of USDEC, concurred, noting: “Canada 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.”

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