In a letter sent yesterday to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, IDFA objected to new reporting requirements from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that effectively restrict U.S. imports of dairy products and foods with dairy ingredients. IDFA called for the immediate suspension of the restrictions, which could hurt key trading relationships and hinder U.S. dairy exports.
Through the 2008 Farm Bill, Congress authorized the U.S. Department of Agriculture to collect assessments on imported dairy products, as long as the domestically oriented producer check-off program could be modified to comply with U.S. trade obligations and did not discriminate against imported dairy products. Because it remains to be seen whether these stipulations can be met, IDFA and other food industry organizations were surprised to learn that new reporting requirements were implemented by CBP in December.
"There continues to be concern from our trading partners that the potential dairy import assessment rule would violate international trade obligations," IDFA told Kirk in the letter. "This latest development has only exacerbated their concerns."
Other federal officials were copied on the letter, including Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and several undersecretaries. Read the letter here.
USDA released a proposed rule for comment last summer, which raised concerns within the food industry. IDFA joined an alliance of other organizations and submitted joint comments, calling for changes to the rule and opposing the inclusion of non-dairy foods with dairy ingredients, such as chocolate, cocoa, doughs and mixes. Members may view the previous News Update story, "IDFA Joins Dairy Alliance on Dairy Import Assessment Comments," and comments here.
For more information, contact Ruth Saunders, IDFA vice president of policy and legislative affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-220-3553.