The United States is consulting again with Canada over complaints that the country is manipulating its dairy import quotas and restricting access to its market, but U.S. senators are now demanding the Biden administration take the next step of calling for a second dispute panel under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
“There has been no improvement in Canada’s TRQ administration despite the USTR’s continued engagement,” Sens. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and John Boozman, R-Ark., say in a letter sent this week to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai. “To bring Canada into compliance with its commitments to U.S. dairy producers, we urge USTR to move forward with a second dispute settlement case to implement USMCA’s dairy provisions fully and properly to increase U.S. dairy market access.”
Stabenow is chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee and Boozman is the top Republican.
The U.S. declared victory after the first dispute panel ruled in December 2021 that Canada breached dairy quota pledges it made under the trade agreement. Canada agreed to make changes that would result in more U.S. exports of milk, cheese, cream, skim milk powder, butter, ice cream and whey, but U.S. industry and government officials rejected those as insufficient.
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, at the time, told Agri-Pulse that “there is a need for Canada to make a much better effort than they’re making right now.”
The U.S. again entered into official consultations with Canada over its dairy quotas on May 25, 2022, but a new dispute panel was not called for by the USTR. And then in December, the U.S. refiled its request for consultations and broadened its complaints against how Canada was operating the quotas.
Now, U.S. lawmakers and industry groups are calling on USTR to follow up with a second dispute.
“As you consider further action to compel Canada to honor its commitment to fair dairy access in the USMCA, I encourage you to request a dispute settlement panel with Canada as soon as possible,” Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., told Tai in a separate letter.
Shawna Morris, senior vice president for trade policy at the National Milk Producers Federation, said the group is ready for USTR to take action again.
“Canada’s thumbed its nose at its USMCA commitments for far too long,” she told Agri-Pulse. “U.S. dairy farmers and manufacturers count on our trading partners to hold their end of the bargain; that’s what Canada needs to do. That’s why we strongly supported the administration’s latest USMCA dispute settlement consultation request in December and believe that this issue is ripe to move forward to a panel.”
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