Brindisi, Stefanik and Katko lead members of New York delegation and call on U.S. trade rep. to hold Canada and Mexico accountable
Congressman Anthony Brindisi lead a New York delegation letter today along with Rep. John Katko (NY-24) and Rep. Elise Stefanik (NY-21) to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer urging him to ensure that Canada does not distribute tariff-rate quotas, which undermine the intent of the dairy provisions of the USMCA by hindering the ability of the U.S. dairy industry to fully utilize the Canadian market access that the trade agreement provides. The letter also urges the USTR to ensure that Canada upholds its end of the agreement by eliminating the Class 6 and 7 milk price classification in a way that ensures that the harmful classifications do not reappear under a different name at some point in the future. These provisions were key wins for the United States dairy industry during USMCA negotiations, and Congressman Brindisi and his colleagues are requesting that Canada upholds its end of the agreement.
“We worked hard to pass the USMCA in a commonsense, bipartisan way to help American farmers, manufacturers, and workers. Upstate New York dairy farmers drive millions of dollars into our local and national economies, and especially as we continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, they need our unwavering support,” said Brindisi. “I will keep working with Democrats, Republicans and the administration to ensure that our neighbors uphold their end of the USMCA and that all our trade deals put American farmers first.”
“Our dairy farms and processors are critical to the success of our rural communities and economies, and they need a fair and reasonable trade policy to keep valuable market access, especially as they recover from the market disruptions that they faced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Stefanik. “I will continue to work directly with the Administration and my House colleagues in order to ensure that the USMCA agreement is fully implemented the way it was intended, and that all our partners uphold their end of the agreement. I will continue to advocate for results like the USMCA, which will play a vital role in helping to rebuild and restart our North Country economy.
“The USMCA will continue key trade opportunities for New York farmers at a critical time for farmers who are struggling to recover from COVID-19 losses and a down agricultural economy. Nearly half of our state’s agricultural exports go to our North American neighbors, providing vital market opportunities that will remain open thanks to USMCA,” said New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher. “The assurance that this agreement provides to farmers, plus the potential for expected growth for our dairy farms, are reasons for a positive outlook on USMCA. New York Farm Bureau would like to thank members of the New York Congressional delegation for their efforts to ensure that dairy provisions found in the USMCA are upheld and provide market access for New York dairy producers.”
“USMCA requires Canada to provide long-sought new market access for U.S. dairy products and to eliminate its destructive Classes 6 and 7 milk pricing schemes,” said Jaime Castaneda, Senior Vice President for Policy Strategy and International Trade, National Milk Producers Federation & U.S. Dairy Export Council. “Canada’s efforts to evade the commitments they made to the U.S. on dairy by manipulating their agreed-upon trade obligations are wholly unacceptable. Representatives Stefanik, Brindisi and Katko played a critical role in the passage of USMCA last year and we appreciate their leadership on behalf of Upstate New York dairy farmers.”
The letter is below:
July 1, 2020
The Honorable Robert Lighthizer
United States Trade Representative
600 17th Street NW
Washington, DC 20006
Dear Ambassador Lighthizer,
As the Representatives for thousands of upstate New York dairy farms, we were very encouraged by the signing of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which will secure market access for many of our dairy producers and processors who have been harmed by Canada’s unfair pricing mechanisms for years.
We write now to express our concern surrounding Canada’s allocation of tariff-rate quotas, which undermine the intent of USMCA’s dairy provisions by thwarting the ability of the United States dairy industry to fully utilize the trade agreement’s market access opportunities. Canada has announced their intention to distribute TRQ’s in such a way as to discourage high value U.S. dairy products from entering its market and in manner that appears to be inconsistent with some USMCA requirements related to TRQ administration. We urge you to raise this issue with your Canadian counterparts and insist that they adhere to their commitments made under the USMCA and enable the U.S. to fully utilize the dairy access granted under the agreement.
We also express our concern about the Canadian dairy industry’s intentions to obscure information surrounding pricing regulations relating to the Class 6 and 7 milk price classification. As you know, the United States Mexico Canada Agreement requires Canada to provide new market access for American dairy products and to eliminate its destructive Classes 6 and 7 milk pricing schemes within 6 months of enactment.
Under the agreement, products that fall under the Class 6 and 7 categories are required to be reclassified according to their end use and subject to a price floor establishment. The USMCA also imposes transparency requirements for pricing formulation and requires Canada to publish detailed information on its milk class pricing regulations as of July 1st, 2020. We urge you to ensure that Canada upholds its end of the agreement by eliminating the Class 6 and 7 milk price classification in a transparent manner that ensures that these harmful programs do not reappear under a different name at some point in the future, and to ensure that related USMCA provisions such as those pertaining to export surcharges are implemented in a manner in keeping with the intent of the agreement.
Our upstate New York dairy farmers have suffered tremendous loss as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue to recover from those losses in the coming months. While no one could have predicted the COVID-19 pandemic, the price impacts felt by our dairy producers are lasting. It is critical that, as we move forward, our dairy producers are not further negatively impacted by any Canadian attempts to manipulate access commitments in order to protect its own dairy market. Our dairy farms and processors are critical to the success of our rural communities and economies, and they need a fair and reasonable trade policy to keep valuable market access. This is especially true for those in upstate New York who are located within close proximity to the Canadian border.
We were encouraged by your testimony and comments about these issues during the trade hearings before the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees. We look forward to working with you to ensure that our New York dairy farmers and processors have a fair shot and that Canada is held accountable for its commitments made as part of the signing of the USMCA.