House group calls on Canada to open market to more U.S. dairy products

U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble (R-WI) led a bipartisan group of fellow lawmakers on Wednesday in urging the Canadian government to open its markets to more U.S. dairy products, amid ongoing discussions in hammering out the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement.

After a promising meeting with U.S. trade representatives on Tuesday, the team of 20 House members sent a letter to Gary Doer, the Canadian ambassador to the U.S., outlining their case.

“The Trans-Pacific Partnership deal should be a victory for Wisconsin and all American dairy farmers, “ Ribble said. “We make the best products in the world, and the ability to sell our milk, cheese and butter around the world is crucial for our producers. Canada’s more open agricultural markets are part of the price for entry into the TPP agreements, and gaining access to the Canadian market is crucial to our ability to win a balanced outcome for dairy.”

In the letter, the congressmen reiterated that dairy-market access is among the final issues to be resolved in the negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership. “It is our understanding that Canada has long been unwilling to seriously engage in market-access discussions regarding dairy, despite its commitment upon joining TPP to adhere to its high standards,” the House members wrote. “It is critical that Canada finally commit to finishing the work left undone in our prior agreements and commit to significant and commercially meaningful market access for all remaining agricultural products. The final market-access package with Canada on dairy in TPP will have a significant impact on how Congress views the final agreement if Canada remains a member.”

“Throughout the last months, I have made it clear that I believe any trade deal must open new markets to Wisconsin dairy exporters and level the playing field for our farmers to compete,” U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (R-WI) said. “One of those new markets is Canada, but in order for the U.S. to reach an agreement with them, they must be willing to commit to meaningful reforms to open market access. I will continue to push our negotiators to get the best deal possible for Wisconsin dairy farmers.”

In addition to creating significant export opportunities into the Canadian market, two other dairy-market access issues remain on the TPP agenda. Market-access discussions with Japan on core dairy commodities still need to be addressed, as well as the challenge of creating net trade benefits for the U.S. in regard to trade with New Zealand.