The dairy industry is now on board with the Trans-Pacific Partnership while opposing the trade deal with Europe.
The National Milk Producers Federation board of directors voted Tuesday to support the TPP and is calling on Congress to pass the trade agreement this year. The group did so despite the federation's view that TPP doesn't translate into a significant boost for U.S. dairy exports.
“Taken in its entirety, the TPP agreement is positive for the U.S. dairy industry,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “Although it achieves less than we wanted in terms of throwing open new markets in Japan and Canada, I am particularly pleased that we did not concede to a huge surge in new imports.” NMPF’s position reflects a detailed assessment of the entire package conducted by the staffs of both NMPF and the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC)."
TPP is in a tenuous position because of the U.S. presidential election and lack of support from the presidential candidates in both parties. It's likely TPP won't get taken up in the Senate until after the presidential election, but there are also indications Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., could opt not to take up the trade pact at all if Republicans lose control of the Senate.
A recent study by a group called the Peterson Institute cites the U.S. economy loses roughly $98 billion in economic benefit every year TPP is delayed.
For the milk producers, Mulhern noted the TPP agreement also contains important provisions designed “to knock down other trade barriers, such as food safety disputes, and to challenge the growing number of restrictions limiting trade of foods with commonly-used names such as parmesan."
The problem with the U.S.-European Union trade deal is Europe's refusal to remove barriers to U.S. dairy exports, NMPF stated.
The U.S.-EU trade deal, known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, is struggling to advance on the agricultural front partially because of Europe's insistence on geographical indicators, or designations, defining that a word such as parmesan of feta can only be used for cheese from a certain area of Europe. This issue permeates the arguments not just on dairy, but also meats and other products such as wines.
The NMPF resolution also urged the U.S. to establish proper enforcement measures regarding access granted to the domestic market, and monitor compliance with those measures after the TPP is implemented.
The board also formally registered its view that given the lack of significant export inroads in the agreement, the TPP market access package should not be used as a template for future U.S. trade agreements.
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