Udderly Ridiculous: U.S. Trade Negotiators Try to Milk Dairy Concessions from Canadians
by Scott Klinger, 7/24/2015
With the president successfully wrangling “fast track” negotiating authority for the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, U.S. negotiators face new hurdles as they press our Canadian neighbors to open their dairy markets to global competition. This issue may be one of the stickiest ones on the table as global negotiators meet next week in Hawaii to continue to work out the agreement.
Canada has long sought to protect its vital dairy industry, succeeding in keeping it out of the 1988 U.S. –Canada trade treaty and the 1992 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). This time around, the Canadian dairy industry has launched a full-on public relations effort to drum up support for its government’s efforts in protecting dairy farmers. Dubbed “Milkle Down,” the new campaign highlights how many Canadian jobs are dependent on the nation’s dairy industry.
U.S. trade negotiators say they are seeking to open new markets for the U.S. dairy industry.
Congress has gotten into the act, with 21 House members led by Ways and Means Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) sending a letter to the Canadian government accusing them of being “unwilling to seriously engage in market access discussions regarding dairy.” The letter closes with a pointed threat: “The final dairy market access package with Canada will have a significant impact on how Congress views the final agreement. It will be difficult for us to support Canada’s inclusion in TPP if significant new dairy access is not part of the deal.”
The government of Canada is seeking to protect 215,000 jobs its citizens hold (which would be about 2 million jobs in American terms, adjusting for the difference in size of our countries' populations) and to safeguard the cultures of the communities in which these people live.
All countries should have people-first trade policies. Pressuring other nations to sacrifice the jobs of their nation’s workers in the name of free trade wrongly puts profits before people.