National dairy organizations in the United States, Australia and New Zealand issued a joint letter to their respective trade and agriculture officials, pressing for an ambitious, comprehensive and commercially meaningful outcome in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. Representing three of the leading dairy exporting nations in the world, the groups believe TPP provides a historic opportunity to eliminate trade distortions and ensure an abundance of safe and affordable products for consumers, while providing increased opportunities for dairy farmers and processors.

The dairy organizations specifically called for “significantly increased dairy market access” with Japan and Canada, two of the 12 partners in the treaty. Noting that negotiations with Japan have made progress, the organizations said vital work remains and the ambitious goals of the partnership should not be sacrificed for the sake of expediency. They also urged negotiators to turn a greater spotlight on Canada, saying the country needs to provide more meaningful market access for all dairy products if it is to remain a participant in the treaty.

“Our neighbor to the north needs to come to the table now with a substantial offer on dairy,” said Connie Tipton, president and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association. “The U.S. dairy industry will not accept another deal like the North American Free Trade Agreement that allows Canada to exclude dairy. TPP was launched to open markets, not create more barriers.”

Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation, echoed that sentiment. “The U.S. dairy industry is tired of having the door slammed in its face,” he said. “While progress has been made with Japan, the job there is not yet finished. Meanwhile Canada is dragging its feet. We simply will not tolerate an agreement that doesn’t provide the opportunity for us to sell significantly more U.S. dairy products to both countries.”

Tom Suber, president of the U.S. Dairy Export Council, noted the increased demand for everything from milk to ice cream in the Asia-Pacific markets. “The United States is ideally suited to help meet increased demand for a wide range of dairy products throughout the TPP region. The full range of U.S. exporters deserves to see expanded access for their products that allows them to keep growing their sales over time.”

While traditional tariff barriers remain widespread for dairy products, trade is also restricted by more subtle, non-tariff measures, such as the European Union’s aggressive stance on geographical indications, as was demonstrated in its trade agreement with Canada. The organizations said they expect TPP to ensure that new market access will not be hindered by these types of non-tariff barriers, which are aimed at thwarting imports.

The letter provided a forum for the three countries to deliver a united message to negotiators on these key priorities, but also noted that the organizations each have additional criteria by which they will judge the final TPP outcome.

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The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), based in Arlington, Va., develops and carries out policies that advance the well-being of U.S. dairy producers and the cooperatives they collectively own. The members of NMPF's cooperatives produce the majority of the U.S, milk supply, making NMPF the voice of nearly 32,000 dairy producers on Capitol Hill and with government agencies. For more on NMPF's activities, visit www.nmpf.org.

The U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) is a non-profit, independent membership organization that represents the global trade interests of U.S. dairy producers, proprietary processors and cooperatives, ingredient suppliers and export traders. Its mission is to enhance U.S. global competitiveness and assist the U.S. industry to increase its global dairy ingredient sales and exports of U.S. dairy products. USDEC accomplishes this through programs in market development that build global demand for U.S. dairy products, resolve market access barriers and advance industry trade policy goals. USDEC is supported by staff across the United States and overseas in Mexico, South America, Asia, Middle East and Europe.

The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), Washington, D.C, represents the nation's dairy manufacturing and marketing industries and their suppliers, with a membership of 550 companies within a $125-billion a year industry. IDFA is composed of three constituent organizations: the Milk Industry Foundation (MIF), the National Cheese Institute (NCI) and the International Ice Cream Association (IICA). IDFA's nearly 200 dairy processing members run nearly 600 plant operations, and range from large multi-national organizations to single-plant companies. Together they represent more than 85 percent of the milk, cultured products, cheese, ice cream and frozen desserts produced and marketed in the United States. IDFA can be found at www.idfa.org.