A group of House members in a letter this week to Canada's ambassador to the U.S. Gary Doar urged Canada to allow more imports of U.S. dairy products as an outcome of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks.
If Canada cannot provide more dairy market access, the letter said, it risks being left out of the Pacific Rim trade agreement now in the final stages of negotiation.
The National Milk Producers Federation and the U.S. Dairy Export Council supported the letter, spearheaded by Reps. Reid Ribble, R-Wis., Ron Kind, D-Wis., David Valadao, R-Calif., and Suzan DelBene, D-Wash.
"It will be difficult for us to support Canada's inclusion in TPP if significant new dairy access is not part of the deal," they wrote.
NMPF and USDEC said the legislators' message is a "vital element" to achieving balanced market access result through TPP.
"We applaud this group of House members for demanding that Canada get serious about allowing more dairy imports," said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. "Creating meaningful U.S. export opportunities in the Canadian market is one of three critical dairy market access issues remaining in TPP and so far Canada has refused to live up to its commitment to address it.
"If U.S. dairy farmers are ultimately asked to grapple with greater competition under this agreement, it's only right that they be able to have comparable product opportunities to tap into exports to Canada, as well as Japan," Mulhern said.
"Our members had hoped that TPP would eliminate all dairy tariffs in the region; that now appears unlikely," added USDEC President Tom Suber.
"Despite this, we see the prospect for ample market access gains – particularly into Japan and Canada. We hope to support a final agreement that ensures the United States gains at least as much increased dairy market access into those markets for major dairy commodities as it grants to our largest competitor in this agreement. Our industry is willing to do its part; Canada needs to do so as well if it wants to be part of TPP," Suber said.
The dairy groups said the final agreement must include net trade benefits for exports of major dairy commodities into Japan and Canada, TPP's major dairy import destinations, in comparison with new dairy access into the United States for New Zealand, the world's largest dairy exporter, for each of those products.