The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) welcomed the introduction of the Trade Priorities Act (TPA) of 2014. The bipartisan legislation – introduced by Sens. Max Baucus (D-MT) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) – contains several elements of importance to the U.S. dairy industry, including:

The bill includes several key negotiating objectives, such as the reduction or elimination of tariffs, robust rules on sanitary and phytosanitary measures, and preventing the improper use of geographical indications, all of which make it easier and less costly for U.S. dairy companies to compete globally.

“This legislation recognizes the importance of clearly identifying the goals and priorities that are most vital to the successful negotiation of balanced trade agreements,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF.

“We are very pleased to see the TPA legislation recognizes the many challenges facing U.S. agricultural exports, including dairy products, and its rightful focus on how negotiations should best address barriers to trade,” declared Tom Suber, president of USDEC.

 Both organizations stressed that TPA’s role is to lay the groundwork for Congressional consideration of trade agreements, but it is by no means an automatic stamp of approval on any agreement currently underway. The details of each final trade deal and the degree to which it meets the dairy industry’s key priority for that negotiation will determine whether or not that agreement is one that merits support.

"The U.S. dairy industry is seeking a more liberalized international dairy market, and we believe that balanced free trade agreements will increase market access for U.S. dairy exports," said Connie Tipton, IDFA president and CEO. "We urge members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to move quickly to advance this legislation so the positive progress on TPP and TTIP will continue, opening a wealth of opportunity for U.S. business and job growth."

The United States is actively pursuing an ambitious set of trade negotiations, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which are important to the health of the U.S. dairy industry. This bipartisan legislation would renew trade promotion authority, which expired in 2007, for the president and ensure that Congress would play a meaningful role in shaping U.S. trade negotiations and achieving results.