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Dairy Sector Calls USMCA Deal 'Critical'
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 12/03/2018

Wisconsin lawmakers joined state farm groups in applauding last week's signing of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. On Friday, Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative said the program, which replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement, is a critical step forward for dairy producers, but stressed the importance of clearing up remaining uncertainties in the deal and resolving the tariff issue that continues to hurt farmers.

"Given the importance of keeping a NAFTA-style agreement, we are thankful for the hard-fought progress the three countries have made. Mexico is the most important trading partner for our dairy community, and changes in the deal with Canada should provide benefits there also," said Edge Board President Brody Stapel. "At minimum, this gives hope to our dairy farmers who have been fighting to make it through a very difficult time. You can't overstate the value of having certainty at times like this."

The Green Bay-based cooperative says USMCA includes important provisions for dairy, including retaining market certainty with Mexico, protecting common cheese names in the Mexican market, adding transparency provisions for oversight of Canada's internal pricing structure, and placing limits on certain Canadian exports.

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin notes that the House and Senate still need to write implementing legislation before the policy can be officially implemented.

"NAFTA, which I opposed, cost Wisconsin thousands of manufacturing jobs and needs to be fixed," Baldwin said. "Wisconsin needs better trade deals, not trade wars so now Congress needs to do its job and make sure this new deal works for farmers, manufacturers, businesses and workers."

She also cited statistics by the USDA that confirm Wisconsin has lost 584 dairy farms this year, which she blames on trade wars and tariffs.

"We need to make sure that the USMCA confronts Canada's unfair trade barriers and Mexico's limits on Wisconsin cheese exports," Baldwin noted. "As Congress works on legislation for this new deal I will be working to ensure that this new deal increases market access for our Wisconsin dairy farmers and cheese makers."

The trilateral trade deal was signed by the presidents of the U.S., Canada and Mexico on Friday at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires. Many reports speculate that most of the new USMCA provisions will not go into effect until 2020.

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