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Honorable Tim Walz

Representing the 1st District of MINNESOTA

Walz Statement on Dairy Agreement

Apr 26, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representative Tim Walz (MN-01) released the following statement after reports that all Minnesota dairy producers whose contracts with Grassland Dairy Products, Inc. were terminated following the rollout of new Canadian dairy regulations have reached an agreement with the buyer:

“Minnesota dairy farmers affected by this agreement can finally sleep soundly again knowing they no longer have to worry about how to keep their doors open come May 1. Going forward, I will continue to fight for our Minnesota producers by pushing this Administration to fully enforce our current trade agreements and hold our international trade partners accountable. Moreover, any new trade discussions must hold the interests of America’s producers as a top priority so that they can continue to feed, fuel and clothe the world.”

On April 13, Rep. Walz wrote a letter to President Trump alongside U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, and U.S. Representative Collin Peterson (MN-07) urging the Administration to support Minnesota farmers through strong enforcement of America’s trade laws with Canada.

The full text of the letter is below:

Dear Mr. President,

We write today to express deep concern over troubling developments facing dairy farmers in our region. Grassland Dairy Products, Inc. has ended a number of dairy contracts in our state as a result of lost sales to Canada. Grassland's Vice President of Business Development has reported that the decision will impact one million pounds of milk per day. The reductions are a result of new Canadian dairy regulations which took effect in February in most provinces. These regulations present an impermissible trade barrier for the dairy industry in our region.

To address this emergency in the near term we urge the Administration to negotiate with the Canadian government an immediate hold on the Class 7 National Ingredient Strategy and the province of Ontario's Class 6 pricing program. If this new Canadian policy to discourage its processors from using imported ultra-filtered milk is allowed to continue, it will continue to depress low prices, intensify oversupply, and threaten multi-generational Minnesota dairy farms. Several of our state's producers have received letters notifying them that their milk supply will no longer be accepted starting May 1.

In the longer term the Administration must directly engage the Canadian government to ensure their compliance with current trade agreements. While we understand that the Administration is determining its priorities for possible discussions with our North American Free Trade (NAFTA) partners, a separate investigation into the implementation of these two policies - the Class 7 National Ingredients Strategy and Ontario's Class 6 pricing program - is needed to determine whether they violate existing trade commitments.

In 1997, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative challenged Canada's dairy trade practices and a subsequent World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement panel found that elements of Canada's special milk class system violated WTO obligations. We believe this situation may be similar and ask that the Administration explore it fully. 

Minnesota dairy farmers are already beginning to feel the harmful effects of these recent decisions by the Canadian government. We urge you to work to support our farmers through strong enforcement of our trade laws with Canada. Thank you for your time and immediate consideration of our requests. We look forward to working with you on these issues.