“Concerned,” WI Congressional delegation sends letter to Pres. Trump admin. to address milk exports

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Wisconsin’s entire Congressional delegation is asking President Donald Trump’s administration to act on the Canadian trade barriers that have put local dairy farmers at risk.

Grassland Dairy, a milk processor, told 75 Wisconsin farmers it could no longer purchase their milk because a Canadian policy has removed the demand for imported American milk.

In a letter, the lawmakers urge President Trump to bring Canada into compliance with its trade commitments.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin farmers are racing to find a new processor by the end of April, or risk going out of business entirely.

Below is the letter spearheaded by House Speaker Paul Ryan and Congressman Sean Duffy, co-signed by the entire Wisconsin Congressional delegation:

Dear Secretary Ross, Acting Trade Representative Vaughn, and Acting Secretary Young,

On behalf of Wisconsin’s dairy farmers, we are writing to raise our concerns about recent actions by Canada that are restricting American milk exports to the Canadian market.  Dairy farmers in Wisconsin and across the country rely on exports to remain viable.  Last year, the United States dairy industry exported roughly 15 percent of its milk production.  In Wisconsin – America’s Dairyland – the dairy industry contributes more than $43 billion on average to the economy each year.

Canada has recently taken steps to implement targeted milk pricing programs that have compromised the ability of Wisconsin dairy farmers to access the Canadian market under existing trade agreements.  These changes have caused the displacement of current imports from the United States, including ultra-filtered milk processed in Wisconsin.  Canada traditionally used five classes to price its dairy products.  In April 2016, Ontario province implemented its own additional sixth class, which has significantly restricted the exports of Wisconsin’s dairy farmers into the Canadian market.  Further exacerbating these trade barriers, Canada implemented a Class 7 National Ingredients Strategy, further displacing American exports and processors’ ability to accept milk supplies.  In addition, Canada’s lack of transparency regarding these policies compounds the problem that our dairy industry is facing. 

We are greatly concerned that these programs appear to violate Canada’s existing trade obligations to the United States.  Just last week, more than 75 Wisconsin dairy farmers were notified that the processor they sell to would no longer purchase their milk effective May 1, 2017, as a direct result of Canada’s restrictive trade policies.  This situation underscores how Canada’s new pricing policies are not only undermining trade with the United States but are displacing fresh milk produced by hard-working dairy farmers in Wisconsin and around the country.

We urge you to take immediate action to address this dire situation where apparent unfair trade practices are putting Wisconsin dairy farmers’ livelihoods at risk.  We look forward to working with you to break down these trade barriers, enforce existing rules, and improve Canadian market access for our producers in any future trade negotiations. 

Sincerely,

Speaker Paul D. Ryan

Congressman Sean Duffy

Governor Scott Walker

Senator Ron Johnson

Senator Tammy Baldwin

Congressman Mark Pocan

Congressman Ron Kind

Congresswoman Gwen Moore

Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner

Congressman Glenn Grothman

Congressman Mike Gallagher