A new North American trade agreement went into effect Wednesday and there are already concerns that Canada may be violating the accord.
Six upstate New York members of Congress, including U.S. Reps. Anthony Brindisi, John Katko, Tom Reed and Elise Stefanik, wrote to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer urging him to enforce the dairy provisions within the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement.
USMCA includes provisions that should help American dairy producers access Canadian markets. However, the dairy industry and members of concern worry that Canada will allocate tariff-rate quotas to restrict the ability of producers to import their products.
The members of Congress also want Lighthizer to ensure that Canada eliminates its Class 6 and 7 milk pricing classifications, which also hurt U.S. dairy farms. With USMCA in effect, the milk pricing schemes must be eliminated within a six-month period.
Jaime Castaneda, senior vice president for policy strategy and international trade for the National Milk Producers Federation and U.S. Dairy Export Council, called the Class 6 and 7 milk pricing classifications "destructive."
"Canada's efforts to evade the commitments they made to the U.S. on dairy by manipulating their agreed-upon trade obligations are wholly unacceptable," Castaneda said.
New York's congressional representatives are hopeful the milk pricing schemes won't reemerge under different titles. They noted that dairy producers could be negatively affected if Canada doesn't abide by the terms of USMCA.
Cayuga Milk Ingredients, which is based in Katko's district, was hurt by the Canadian milk pricing classifications. The Aurelius-based company lost $30 million in sales overnight when the dairy pricing policy took effect.
Katko, who supported USMCA when it was approved by the House, said one of the reasons he supported the new agreement is because it protects dairy producers from unfair actions by the Canadians.
"Given the important role that agriculture plays in central New York's economy, it is critical that we provide fair market access for our dairy farmers and establish strong protections against anti-competitive trade practices," he said.
Politics reporter Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.
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