Washington, DC—Today, Reps. Ron Kind (D-WI), Tom Reed (R-NY), Collin Peterson (D-MN), Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA), Anthony Brindisi (D-NY), Russ Fulcher (R-ID), Xochitl Torres Small (D-NM), Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH), and 96 of their colleagues sent a bipartisan letter to United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue urging them to swiftly implement the measures negotiated for the dairy industry in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
The USMCA’s recent entry into force will give farmers increased access to the export markets they need, create an even playing field for dairy farmers, and keep jobs in the United States. However, in order to make sure the dairy industry sees the full benefits of this agreement, it’s crucial that the Administration holds Canada and Mexico accountable to their trade commitments by implementing enforcement provisions. Immediate use of USMCA’s consultation and enforcement measures is necessary to ensure our trading partners deliver on their obligations in a way that’s fully consistent with the spirit and letter of the agreement.
“USMCA is a great example of what can be accomplished when we work across the aisle to get things done, and its implementation makes key advancements for our dairy farmers,” said Rep. Ron Kind. “However, our work has truly just begun. Especially during these challenging times, we must ensure Wisconsin farmers, workers, and families are able to reap the full benefits of this agreement. It’s critical that the Administration follow closely on implementation and enforcement to ensure Canada and Mexico hold up their end of the deal.”
“USMCA represents a massive win for American dairy farmers and our country’s agricultural industry. Now, we must all work together to leverage every enforcement mechanism at our disposal to ensure our allies adhere to the deal and end their restrictive trade practices. As the dairy industry continues to fight through the economic impacts of COVID-19, it is only fair our dairy farmers have the opportunity to enjoy the full benefits of this landmark trade deal,” said Rep. Tom Reed.
“As we see the USMCA dairy provisions implemented, we expect Canada and Mexico to be held accountable for their commitments to ensure our dairy farmers have a more level playing field,” said Rep. Collin Peterson. “I’m proud to work with Reps. Kind, Reed, Thompson (PA), Brindisi, Fulcher, Torres Small, and Gonzalez on this important issue. After a tough past few years, American dairy farmers need this agreement fully enforced, and I remain hopeful that the strong bipartisan support shown in this letter, and our partnership with the Administration, will provide some stability for the sector into the future.”
“American dairy exports have been lackluster for decades and USMCA has the potential to be a game changer. Swift implementation will be a catalyst for growth in rural America, particularly in states like Pennsylvania, where dairy is the number one agricultural product,” said Rep. Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson.
“New Mexico’s agricultural producers, including our dairy farmers, face unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s why it’s all the more critical that we use every tool at our disposal to implement the hard-fought changes in the USMCA and open more markets for dairy farmers. We can’t allow these changes in trade policy to be hollowed out by a lack of enforcement. I remain ready to work with UTSR Lighthizer and Secretary Purdue to ensure our dairy farmers are treated fairly by Canada and Mexico trade practices,” said Rep. Xochitl Torres Small.
“America’s dairy farmers are looking forward to the important benefits and new opportunities that USMCA will bring to our rural communities after a tough year. This is why it is so critical that USMCA’s dairy provisions are implemented efficiently and thoroughly enforced. We applaud Congressmen Kind, Reed, Peterson, Thompson, Brindisi, Fulcher, Torres Small, and Gonzalez for leading this letter and working in a bipartisan manner to secure the full potential of this deal for all of America’s dairy farmers,” said Jim Mulhern, President & CEO, National Milk Producers Federation.
“The finalization of USMCA was a boon for dairy farmers, processors and exporters as it ushered in modernized rules and restored certainty to the North American dairy trade. The bipartisan effort led by Congressmen Kind, Reed, Peterson, Thompson, Brindisi, Fulcher, Torres Small, and Gonzalez to help ensure we hold Canada and Mexico accountable to their trade commitments is important to fully reaping these hard-fought gains. We will continue to work alongside Congress and the U.S. Administration to secure Canada’s compliance in reforming its destructive dairy trade policies and to solidify market-access for common name cheeses in Mexico,” said Tom Vilsack, President & CEO, U.S. Dairy Export Council.
“Wisconsin is synonymous with our rich legacy of dairy farming. Our farmers, cooperatives and processors are counting on USMCA’s new dairy provisions to usher in fairer trade rules. Doing so will expand opportunities for Wisconsin-made dairy and bring increased certainty to our rural communities. Congressman Kind worked diligently to ensure that USMCA had meaningful enforcement mechanisms in place prior to its passage. Now, we commend his continued leadership as he urges the U.S. government to utilize those mechanisms and fulfill the full promise of this trade deal,” said Alexia DeVries, a dairy farmer from Melrose, WI, and member of the Associated Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI) Board of Directors.
Specifically, the lawmakers are calling on USTR Lighthizer and Secretary Perdue to enforce:
- Canadian dairy commitment compliance
- Canada must administer its Dairy Tariff Quota (TRQ) fairly and in a manner consistent with its obligations under USMCA.
- Canada must adhere to their agreement to eliminate their Class 6 and 7 dairy programs, and cannot be permitted to effectively recreate these harmful pricing programs.
- Mexico common names commitment compliance
- Mexico must uphold its commitment via two USMCA side letters pertaining to commonly used cheese names, making sure all prior users’ rights are upheld and that all common cheese names specified under the agreement are respected.
Rep. Kind spent years working to make sure the USMCA is fully enforceable to guarantee increased access to the Canadian dairy market, improve Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) standards, ensure a faster and more enforceable dispute settlement process, and increase labor and environmental standards. Rep. Kind also released a Family Farm Rescue Plan earlier this year, which called for swift implementation of USMCA.
Rep. Kind serves on the Subcommittee on Trade for the Ways and Means Committee, the most powerful – and the oldest – committee in the House of Representatives. It has jurisdiction over tax measures, the management of public debt, trade and tariff laws, Social Security, Medicare, pensions, and many other economic growth measures.
Read the bipartisan letter here.