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Comment Period Ends, Opposition Remains on Mexican Trucking Pilot

May 18, 2011

The comment period for the Department of Transportation's proposed rule to resolve the longstanding trucking dispute between the United States and Mexico ended last Friday. Although some in Washington believe the countries could reach agreement as early as June, others, including key legislators, continue to voice their opposition.

IDFA and several member companies filed comments supporting the proposed rule, which would create a new cross-border trucking program required under the provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Under the terms of the proposal, Mexico and the United States have agreed that 50 percent of Mexico's retaliatory import tariffs, which include American cheeses, would be suspended when the agreement is signed. The remaining 50 percent would be suspended when the first Mexican carrier is authorized to operate under the pilot program.

But opposition on Capitol Hill remains a stumbling block. Earlier this month, a bipartisan group of 42 House representatives, including 17 members of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, asked the administration to abandon the proposal. In a letter to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, the legislators said the program would endanger American roadways and encourage more drug traffic from Mexico.

"Although significant challenges remain, IDFA will continue efforts to support a resolution to this issue," said John Kelly, IDFA manager of international affairs. "We will encourage Congress to support the program, which will provide a clear signal to U.S. trading partners that we are serious about the reciprocal fulfillment of trade obligations."

Mexico is the dairy industry's largest export market importing $837 million worth of dairy products in 2010. However, this market share has been threatened since tariffs on several American cheeses were added to Mexico's retaliation list last August.

The dispute began in 2009, when Congress passed an appropriations bill that eliminated the funding for a previous cross-border trucking pilot program with Mexico. This action resulted in Mexico legally levying tariffs on a number of U.S. exports.

For more information, contact Kelly at


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