USDEC shuns Canada plan to curb US cheese access
The US Dairy Export Council (USDEC) has joined an ad-hoc coalition of 16 dairy companies and organizations in opposing a plan to further restrict US access to the tight Canadian cheese market.
Canada plans to sizably reduce US cheese access through low-tariff measures to give European Union exports a larger share of the Canadian market.
The coalition, composed of cheese manufacturers, dairy cooperatives and trading companies, says the Canada's plan violates the 1994 General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, which bars countries from using free trade agreements to restrict trade.
In a recent letter to US Trade Representative Michael Froman and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the group said the Canadian plan, included in a pending Canada-European Union free trade agreement, would give the EU exclusive access to more than 70% of the cheese Canada imports from countries on its Most Favored Nations list.
"The Canada-EU free trade agreement was already problematic because it bars US companies from using several common cheese names on products headed across our northern border," said Tom Suber, president of the US Dairy Export Council in
Arlington, Virginia. "And now it is clear that the same FTA would reserve 800 tonnes of an already low quota for cheese imports for the EU."
"This is not just bad policy," said Ken Meyers of MCT Dairies, a company helping lead this fight. "It flies in the face of what free-trade agreements are all about.
They are supposed to open trade, not restrict it."
Tom Gellert, vice president of Atalanta Corporation, another company active in the coalition, is optimistic more organizations will join this effort. "We expect to pick up support from more US cheese companies as word of Canada's latest proposal trade restriction gets around," he said.
The organizations currently in the coalition are Atalanta Corp., Elizabeth, N.J.; Darigold, Seattle, Wash.; Dairy Farmers of America, Kansas City, Mo.; Emmi Roth USA, Monroe, Wis.; Fonterra (USA) Inc., Rosemont, Ill.; Gellert Global Group, Elizabeth, N.J.; International Dairy Foods Association, Washington, D.C.; Kraft Foods Group, Inc., Northfield, Ill.; Land O' Lakes Inc., St. Paul, Minn.; MCT Dairies, Millburn, N.J.; Norseland, Darien, Conn.; Sartori Cheese, Plymouth, Wis.; Tipico Products, Lakewood, N.J.; Trugman Nash Inc., Millburn, N.J.; U.S. Dairy Export Council, Arlington, Va.; and, Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, Madison, Wis.