A coalition of more than 120 agriculture and food organizations, including IDFA, submitted a letter to Congress and President Obama last Friday, emphasizing the importance of passing the pending free trade agreements (FTAs) with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. The agreements, which feature strong benefits for dairy exports, appear to be gaining renewed momentum now that the debt-limit deadlock is over.
"It's difficult to watch years of market development evaporate in a matter of months because we are not able to compete on the basis of price, making the United States the residual supplier where it was once the main supplier," the coalition letter said. "U.S. agriculture is prepared to work to achieve the full benefits of these agreements but can only do so if the U.S. government moves quickly to pass these agreements."
The agreements previously stalled over renewal of the expanded trade adjustment assistance (TAA) program, which provides financial aid and training to displaced workers. The administration has said it will not submit the three agreements to Congress without reaching a deal to renew TAA, but Republicans have consistently opposed combining the two. The latest reports say several leading members of Congress currently are working on solving the dispute and may be close to a deal.
"While IDFA had hoped that these important agreements would be passed before the August recess, we are optimistic that they will take a high priority when Congress meets in September," said John Kelly, IDFA manager of international affairs. "It's important to get these deals passed as quickly as possible, because other dairy exporting countries like the European Union already have agreements with important markets, including South Korea. We are already seeing a quota disadvantage of 4,560 tons for cheese in that market,"
Read the letter here.
For more information, contact Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org.