Casey to Obama: Protect PA Dairy Farmers

WASHINGTON, DC U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today urged President Obama to protect Pennsylvania dairy farmers from unfair trade practices. In a letter sent today, Senator Casey pressed President Obama to address trade barriers facing dairy farmers during his upcoming meeting with New Zealand’s Prime Minister, imploring the President to consider the needs of Pennsylvania dairy farmers during ongoing negotiations for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement.

“Pennsylvania dairy farmers face tremendous obstacles to exporting into the New Zealand market,” Senator Casey wrote. “A failure to acknowledge New Zealand’s unique dairy market in the Trans Pacific Partnership could prohibit additional access for U.S. producers while opening our market to a damaging surge of New Zealand-made dairy products.”

One company owns 90 percent of the dairy market share in New Zealand, Senator Casey wrote, making it extremely difficult for Pennsylvania dairy farmers to enter the market.

The full text of the letter is below.

Dear President Obama:

As you prepare to host the Prime Minister of New Zealand, I would continue to urge you to remember Pennsylvania’s dairy farmers in the ongoing negotiations for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement. As I wrote to Ambassador Kirk on March 10, 2010, I am concerned over the possible impact of the TPP on the U.S. dairy industry.

Pennsylvania dairy farmers face tremendous obstacles to exporting into the New Zealand market.  Specifically, one company maintains a virtual monopoly in New Zealand, owning 90 percent of the market share. Dairy farmers in Pennsylvania argue this puts them at an unprecedented disadvantage in trade relations. A failure to acknowledge New Zealand’s unique dairy market in the TPP could prohibit additional access for U.S. producers while opening our market to a damaging surge of New Zealand-made dairy products.

New Zealand’s dairy industry also presents challenges to entering other markets.  While a small country, New Zealand is a global dairy industry power and is responsible for over 40 percent of worldwide trade in dairy products.  Furthermore, the U.S. already has FTAs with four participants in the TPP, removing the possibility of offsetting gains with other TPP participants. The dairy issue with New Zealand therefore has a uniquely significant impact on the industry in the context of this agreement. In fact, the National Milk Producers Federation estimates that an elimination of the tariff-rate quota for New Zealand dairy products could cost U.S. producers $20 billion.

I would ask that you highlight the concerns of American dairy producers in your meetings with the Prime Minister of New Zealand this week. Furthermore, I would urge you to consider any and all possible approaches in the TPP negotiations to effectively defend U.S. dairy producers from any potential surges of imports. These approaches should include examining the exclusion of New Zealand’s dairy sector from the TPP.

Sincerely,

Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator

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