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IDFA Discusses Dairy Priorities with Top Trade, Economic Officials

Jul 25, 2018
Ambassador Gregg Doud, The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) Chief Agricultural Negotiator

IDFA continues to work with the Trump administration to expand trade opportunities for dairy and seek more market access abroad. Association representatives met Tuesday with Ambassador Gregg Doud, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) chief agricultural negotiator, and representatives from the National Economic Council to discuss trade issues and regulatory obstacles the industry faces across the globe.

“Ambassador Doud is the voice of agricultural interests in the administration’s agency for trade and has a clear understanding of the importance of a thriving dairy industry,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., IDFA president and CEO, who attended the meeting. “We were pleased to highlight some of dairy’s most pressing policy issues in an open forum with him and members of the National Economic Council, which advise the president on global and domestic economic policy.”

Also participating in the meeting were Dave Carlin, IDFA senior vice president of legislative affairs and economic policy; Cary Frye, IDFA senior vice president of regulatory affairs; John Allan, IDFA vice president of regulatory affairs and international standards; Beth Hughes, IDFA senior director of international affairs; and Rori Henderson, IDFA summer intern. The team provided expertise and insight on issues important to IDFA members.

International Trade Issues

Dykes and Hughes stressed to the officials that a renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) should preserve the Mexican market for U.S. dairy products and eliminate Canada’s Class 7 pricing program, a milk pricing regime introduced 17 months ago. It artificially lowers milk ingredient prices and incentivizes the substitution of domestic dairy ingredients over imported ingredients. It also promotes the dumping of Canadian proteins onto world markets, artificially manipulating global prices.

IDFA also asked for the officials to address the string of retaliatory tariffs on dairy products that were imposed by Mexico, Canada and China, which are respectively U.S. dairy’s top three markets abroad. IDFA said the duties, which were imposed as a reaction to U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs, have caused lost sales and uncertainty in the dairy market.

As milk production is predicted to rise over the next decade, agreements that facilitate the trade of U.S. dairy products with emerging markets abroad will become even more critical, the IDFA team told Ambassador Doud and the advisers. The association’s experts stressed the importance of securing new bilateral trade pacts to ensure continued growth for American dairy exports.

Dykes and Hughes also asked for the administration to continue to address the European Union’s (EU) efforts to secure exclusive rights to several common cheese names through trade agreements with U.S. trading partners. The EU last year concluded free trade agreements with Canada and Japan that include geographical indications (GI) restrictions for names such as asiago, feta, fontina and gorgonzola. The EU is now finalizing GI updates to its bilateral free trade agreement with Mexico.

International and Domestic Regulatory Issues

IDFA staff also discussed several regulatory issues that affect U.S. dairy trade.

Dykes and Frye thanked the administration for its work to steer the World Health Organization (WHO) toward more transparent processes and evidence-based guidance for countries, and away from anti-dairy policies. IDFA has previously urged federal officials to stand up against WHO actions that would pressure countries to adopt policies discouraging the consumption of dairy products by young children. This month, IDFA expressed appreciation to U.S. administration officials for their work to ensure that WHO declarations support breastfeeding, while not discouraging the consumption of milk, yogurt and other dairy products by toddlers.

Dykes and Frye additionally detailed association efforts to advocate for modernized Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards of identity for a variety of dairy products. This would allow for greater innovation and flexibility in manufacturing to meet consumer demands, they said.

For more information, contact Carlin at dcarlin@idfa.org.

 
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