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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 14, 2013

SCHUMER URGES FEDS TO PRIORITIZE DAIRY IN ONGOING TRADE NEGOTIATIONS — DEMANDS FEDS ENSURE TRADE PARTNERS MAINTAIN MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL DAIRY REGS TO BENEFIT UPSTATE NY DAIRIES



Schumer & Over 30 Other Senators Push USTR & USDA to Ensure Countries Keep Dairy Trade Open & Accessible for US Producers – Warns That Onerous Trade Restrictions Hinder Competition

US Dairy Farmers Rely on Global Markets to Bolster Demand – Dairy Manufacturing Provides Good Jobs throughout the US

Schumer to Feds: Allow Upstate Dairy Farmers to Get Milk to International Market

 

Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer urged the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to protect Upstate New York’s dairy sector and yogurt producers from newly discussed barriers to trade with foreign countries. Schumer is calling on the USTR and the USDA to work towards an agreement during closing talks with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that would continue to grow U.S. dairy exports by ensuring that foreign countries don’t impose new restrictive trade rules but rather honor their commitment to open borders to New York farmers. The current landscape of international dairy regulations, specifically from Canada and New Zealand, significantly disadvantage American dairy producers. Schumer emphasized the TPP’s implications on rural employment and dairy manufacturing sector in the U.S.

 

Schumer said that the federal government should look to expand opportunities for the U.S. into the Canadian dairy market, and avoid limits on certain milk imports. Schumer also listed other vital issues for the USTR and USDA to address during TPP negotiations, that would impact New York’s dairy and yogurt industry. For example, he noted that New Zealand’s has expressed interest in greater access for its dairy products to the U.S. market.  However, Schumer noted that New Zealand’s concentration of virtually 90 percent of its milk supply in the hands of one company gives that company a monopolistic advantage, and could prevent dairies from being able to compete with New Zealand.

 

“Dairy farmers in Upstate New York must be able to get milk to the international dairy market. That’s why I’m calling on the federal government to prioritize Upstate New York’s dairy farmers during ongoing trade talks, and ensure a level playing field with our competitors overseas,” said Schumer. “Upstate New York’s dairy farmers are the leaders in a burgeoning U.S. industry, and we must protect these hard-working New Yorkers against unfair regulations from countries like Canada and a dairy monopoly in New Zealand that could hinder their market expansion. Capitalizing on the popularity of Upstate New York dairy products such as Greek yogurt, our federal government must promote every opportunity to continue growing a stable global market for New York farmers.”

 

“NMPF has supported virtually every FTA in the past 15 years. We hope that the TPP trade agreement results in a positive package for America's dairy producers so that we can do so in this case as well. Senators Schumer and Crapo have been strong champions of the dairy producers' priorities and we appreciate their leadership on this issue of great importance to the future of our industry,” said Jerry Kozak, National Milk Producers Federation President & CEO.

 

“U.S. dairy exports reached a new high last year of $5 billion, further underscoring that trade plays a vital role in the health and growth of the U.S. dairy industry. Our trade agreements need to continue to strengthen this path. U.S. dairy producers and processors are fortunate to have such strong support from each of these Senators for the vital goal of securing a positive TPP outcome for our dairy industry,” said Tom Suber, U.S. Dairy Export Council President.

 

“New York Farm Bureau appreciates Senator Schumer’s efforts to address our farmers’ priorities in regards to the U.S. Trade Representative working out a fair TPP agreement. Certainly, New York dairy farmers and specialty crop growers, in particular, have special concerns, and we urge the Office of USTR to keep them in mind throughout the negotiations,” said Dean Norton, President of New York Farm Bureau.

 

A coalition of over thirty senators from both sides of the aisle have already signed onto Schumer’s letter to the USDA and USTR urging these agencies to pursue a positive outcome for America’s dairy sector in TPP negotiations. Specifically, Schumer noted that the USDA and USTR should address trade concerns with both Canada and New Zealand in dairy-related TPP discussions. Without open access to Canada and absent significant policy reform by New Zealand, the TPP promise of growth in export demand for U.S. dairy will likely not materialize. Additionally, the sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) chapter within TPP must address safe U.S. food products being confronted with arbitrary and unscientific barriers in foreign markets. Specifically, Schumer pointed out that safe U.S. food products are too often burdened with unscientific barriers in foreign markets. Schumer wants this obstacle to global dairy competitiveness to be a top priority for USTR during TPP talks in order for science-based domestic standards for health and safety regulations are adopted worldwide.

 

In Upstate New York, new export markets for American dairy farmers represent opportunities for increased employment and growth in dairy manufacturing. If the USTR and USDA continue to promote better trade relations between our Trans-Pacific partners, it would mean that tens of thousands of farming families throughout the United States can continue to grow their businesses and benefit their local communities in the years ahead.

 

Schumer highlighted that there are dairy producers across the state that could be impacted if federal officials don’t ensure a level playing field on the international market:

 

·         In the Capital Region, there are 63,500 dairy cows

·         In Central New York, there are 129,600 dairy cows

·         In the Rochester Finger Lakes Region, there are 140,600 dairy cows

·         In the Southern Tier, there are 96,400 dairy cows

·         In the North Country, there are 107,700 dairy cows

·         In the Hudson Valley, there are 10,100 dairy cows

·         In Western New York, there are 55,600 dairy cows

 

A copy of Sen. Schumer’s letter appears below:

 

Dear Sec. Vilsack and U.S. Trade Rep. Kirk:

 

We would like to express our appreciation for the dedication of USTR and USDA in helping grow U.S. exports, including areas of high importance to our states such as the dairy industry, particularly in rural areas.  The tens of thousands of dairy farm families in this country increasingly rely on global markets to help provide growing demand for the milk they produce.  In addition to the rural employment created directly by dairy farming, the U.S. is also home to a strong dairy manufacturing sector that helps provide good jobs throughout the states.

 

As USTR and USDA move forward this year with intensified efforts to bring Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations to a close, we wish to underscore the importance of pursuing a positive outcome for America’s dairy sector and the critical role that dairy-related discussions with Canada and New Zealand will play in achieving that goal.  In addition to future opportunities to grow through this negotiation, we are also concerned about the need to maintain current U.S. dairy exports to our TPP partners in the face of potential new barriers to trade.  Without open access to Canada and absent significant policy reform by New Zealand, dairy industry in our states strongly believes that the TPP promise of growth in export demand for U.S. dairy all but vanishes and that in its place they could see significant losses here at home.

 

Strong concerns remain in our states about the expansion of U.S.-New Zealand dairy trade and the impact it could have on this country’s dairy sector if major reforms are not undertaken by New Zealand.  New Zealand has consistently expressed interest in greater access for its dairy products to enter the U.S. market.  At the same time, it is our understanding that New Zealand has resisted considering significant reforms to its dairy sector policies, which permit the concentration of virtually 90% of its milk supply into the hands of one company.  Dairy producers and processors in our states are deeply concerned that this market concentration policy provides New Zealand, the world’s largest dairy exporter, with a tremendous advantage in global markets and are insistent on seeing it effectively addressed as a necessary precursor to any expansion of U.S.-New Zealand dairy trade in TPP.

 

We remain hopeful that the addition last year of Canada to the TPP will improve the prospects for achieving a result that will benefit this country’s dairy farmers and processors.  Fully opening the Canadian market to U.S. dairy products would secure meaningful new market opportunities for our U.S. dairy industry.  To be truly effective, dairy discussions with Canada should include a focus not only on removing tariffs but also on ensuring that various forms of nontariff barriers are not employed to hinder U.S. dairy exports.  In the past, U.S. exporters have secured tariff concessions from Canada only to see efforts develop that impeded access through other means.  We now face the prospect of yet another such obstacle to U.S. exports in the form of potential changes to Canada’s product standards that are not based on science. We appreciate USTR’s and USDA’s attention to this matter and urge your agencies to continue to actively impress upon Canada the importance of not impeding current U.S. exports of safe dairy products through new regulatory barriers.

 

Finally, one of the other major areas of importance is an issue impacting the wider U.S. agricultural sector as well – the sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) chapter within TPP.  This agreement is a key avenue for ensuring that we have binding SPS commitments that improve upon current obligations in this area. Too often, safe U.S. food products are confronted with sudden and unscientific barriers in foreign markets.  Using TPP to address that pervasive problem, while upholding high, science-based U.S. standards for protecting the health and safety of all Americans, could improve the export prospects for a wide range of American agriculture.

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