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Rep. Kind Urges USDA to Expand Dairy Exports to Russia
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 11/21/2012

Wisconsin Congressman Ron Kind has joined Rep. Tim Walz of Minnesota in urging the USDA to make full use of all of the World Trade Organization's tools to address issues that have prohibited U.S. dairy exports from having fair access to the Russian market. In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Ron Kirk and Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack, the two Democratic lawmakers stated that when the bill was signed into law, the U.S. was granted the use of WTO mechanisms to address Russia's non-science based sanitary and phytosanitary barriers to American dairy exports.

"Wisconsin exported a record $2.85 billion worth of agricultural products in 2011, an increase of 18 percent over 2010," Kind said. "Clearly, exporting is a growth opportunity for our producers. Establishing normal trade relations with Russia and holding them accountable through the World Trade Organization not only expands diplomatic and economic engagement in the growing Russian marketplace but creates increased economic opportunities for dairy farmers in Wisconsin and across the country."

Walz adds that for years, southern Minnesota's dairy producers have been shut out of Russia's $2 billion dollar dairy import market due to restrictive trade barriers.

"Last week, the House overwhelmingly voted to allow U.S.-Russian trade to become unconditional and competitive," Congressman Walz wrote. "Granting U.S. farmers, ranchers and dairy producers unfettered access to the world's sixth largest economy, in addition to the full arsenal of WTO trade rules, is a big victory for the future growth and competitiveness of U.S. agricultural exporters."

Last week, the House passed the Russia and Moldova Jackson-Vanik Repeal and Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012. The bill, which establishes normal trade relations with Russia and gives the U.S. the ability to challenge Russia's discriminatory trade practices, will move to the Senate for approval.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, export revenues account for 26 percent of Wisconsin farm cash receipts in 2010. The state exported more than $230 million worth of dairy products last year, and has ranked number one nationally in cheese production.

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