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Welch Pushes for Level Playing Field for U.S. Dairy Products

May 1, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON—Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT), joined by a bipartisan group of 67 House colleagues, sent a letter to President Trump advocating for swift action to ensure Canada upholds dairy trade agreements.  Last week, the President called out Canada’s dairy trade practices as unfair to U.S. dairy farmers.
 
The letter details Canadian trade practices that “may violate Canada’s existing trade commitments to the United States by effectively discouraging U.S. dairy exports to Canada.” It also reinforces that “our districts and states rely on the jobs the dairy industry provides and cannot afford further protectionist policies from our northern neighbor.”
 
The letter was co-led by Representatives Chris Collins (NY-27),  Suzan Delbene (WA-01), Sean Duffy (WI-07), Ron Kind (WI-03), and Elise Stefanik (NY-21).

“Being able to compete in global markets is imperative to the success of our Cooperative and the U.S. dairy sector,” said Leon Berthiaume, Chief Executive Officer of the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery.  “We thank Congressman Welch for his leadership on this issue and given our close proximity to Canada, where so many goods easily move back and forth between our countries, the focus on assuring that we can maintain our market access is critical.”

Full text of the letter, along with signatories, can be seen here and the full text is below.
 
April 26, 2017
 
Donald J. Trump
President of the United States
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20500
 
 
Mr. President: 
 
We write to thank you for your recent acknowledgement of Canada’s protectionist dairy policies and urge your administration to take swift action to hold Canada to its trade commitments in this area.
 
The U.S. dairy sector relies on its exports to survive. In 2016, the industry exported approximately 15 percent of its milk production, worth roughly $5 billion. To our NAFTA partners alone, the United States exported $1.2 billion of dairy products to Mexico and $631 million to Canada.  To that end, U.S. exports helped the dairy sector maintain roughly 110,000 U.S. jobs in farming and manufacturing.  
 
Unfortunately, Canada’s recent revisions to its milk classification system have prompted serious concerns.  Canadians traditionally used five classes to price its products, ranging from fluid milks and creams to milk used for further processing.  In April 2016, the Canadian province of Ontario began implementing a new milk price class, Class 6, which has dramatically altered dairy imports and skewed the market.  
 
More recently, Canada’s newly implemented Class 7 National Ingredients Strategy has displaced current U.S. imports and is poised to negatively impact global milk powder markets.  We are concerned that these programs may violate Canada’s existing trade commitments to the United States by effectively discouraging U.S. dairy exports to Canada. 
 
The Ontario Class 6 program has already slashed U.S. exports of ultra-filtered milk starting in mid-2016 and U.S. companies are reporting further losses of contracts.  The loss of these and other exports because of the Class 6 and 7 programs will continue to harm American dairy manufacturers and their supplying farms.  Our districts and states rely on the jobs the dairy industry provides and cannot afford further protectionist policies from our northern neighbor.  
 
As your administration crafts NAFTA priorities, we must ensure that our trade partners maintain compliance with ongoing agreements.  Please stand with us in enforcing current law and opposing Canadian policies that disrupt global milk powder markets and directly hurt American exports.  
 
 
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