The fourth round of talks on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) began last week outside of Washington, D.C., where representatives from the United States, Canada and Mexico discussed the agreement’s Agriculture chapter, including dairy. In a new proposal, U.S. negotiators asked Canada to address concerns about Canada’s new dairy pricing policy, which has effectively blocked some U.S. dairy exports to Canadian markets and lowered prices for skim milk powders around the globe.
Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO of IDFA, attended the talks, which ran Oct. 11-17, to advocate for dairy and engage with U.S. negotiators as a cleared advisor. Although maintaining the U.S. dairy export market in Mexico is IDFA’s top priority in the modernization efforts, Dykes has consistently pushed the administration to address Canada’s new Class 7 pricing policy, which undercuts skim milk powder prices on the global market.
“Securing NAFTA provisions that curb pricing policies like this will help to ensure that U.S. dairy products can compete fairly in Canada, as well as in other markets,” Dykes said.
Geographical indications are another priority area for IDFA. Dykes said the negotiations must address the European Union’s attempts to restrict the use of common food names in Mexico and Canada. Last month, the EU and Canada provisionally implemented a bilateral trade pact that blocks American dairy product companies from selling cheeses with the common names of asiago, feta, fontina, gorgonzola and munster in Canada. The EU is currently revising its pact with Mexico to achieve similar exclusions.
Negotiators are scheduled to meet for three additional rounds of talks, with the fifth round scheduled for mid-November in Mexico City. IDFA will continue to make dairy’s voice heard during the remainder of the negotiations.
Tri-National Agricultural Accord in Denver
Also this week, Dykes addressed members of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) at its 26th Annual Tri-National Agricultural Accord in Denver. He discussed dairy industry perspectives and the importance of the NAFTA negotiations.
The Tri-National Accord is an annual meeting of senior state and provincial agricultural officials of the United States, Canada and Mexico. Participants included representatives of the U.S. government, as well as corresponding officials from the participating countries. Attendees aim to address agricultural trade and development issues by working together collaboratively.
For more information, contact Dave Carlin, IDFA senior vice president of legislative affairs and economic policy, at email@example.com.