“The Trump administration negotiated some very good provisions that would be beneficial to U.S. dairy producers, and it was going to essentially bring down tariffs on dairy, which would enable dairy to be traded up to Canada,” Rep. Chris Jacobs, R-NY-27, said.
However, Jacobs, at Reyncrest Farms in Corfu Monday, said dairy farmers in his district and across the country have yet to be able to reap the benefits of the new deal.
“They’re trying to game the system here and play games with the agreement as it was written, but it’s pretty obvious to anybody looking at it that the end goal, what they’re doing is to make it nearly impossible for it to be competitive for U.S. dairy to get up there,” he said.
Under the USMCA, American dairy farmers are supposed to have increased access to sell in Canadian markets in 14 different categories, including milk, cheese and ice cream. Jacobs said Canada, by specifically setting aside a percentage of its tariff-rate quotas for Canadian producers, is essentially blocking that access.
A formal process to settle the dispute between the two countries is underway.
“That could take as much as a year, so I really am hoping that with some awareness campaigns here we can get Canada to do the right thing,” Jacobs said.
He said the issue is particularly important in his district, where agriculture is the largest economic sector and dairy is the biggest driver within that sector.
“We are in the backyard of Canada,” he said. “We have close proximity so we can benefit the most. Our farmers and the area in Southern Ontario on our border is growing dramatically, so there’s a lot of opportunity there for dairy sales as long as they would make the playing field level, and they’re just not doing that right now.”
Jacobs also sent a letter to the Canadian Ambassador to the U.S. Monday highlighting the issue, and said he plans to keep the pressure on until it’s resolved.