Call to action: Speak up on fair trade to protect dairy exports and our farmers
Thursday, April 6, 2017
Posted by: Jamie Mara, Public relations director
We want to get you up to speed on a situation involving the cancellation of some milk supply contracts in Wisconsin and encourage you to urge federal lawmakers to address fair international trade.
Grassland Dairy Products in Greenwood, Wis., recently notified several dozen farmers that the company would no longer be purchasing their milk as of May 1. The change directly affects some of our members.
At the root of this are Canadian regulators' roll-out of a new "Class 7" milk pricing program and a revision to its definition of ultrafiltered milk. The change, which took effect April 1, closes off a longtime market for Grassland to Canadian cheese makers. It's unrelated to tariffs.
Some dairy industry leaders say the move, which is affecting other U.S. processors as well, might be a violation of international trade laws.
WHAT WE ARE DOING
Our staff is attempting to connect our farmers with other processors. We continue to reach out to processors, industry leaders and the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, which is meeting with processors on Friday to identify solutions.
On the legislative front, we had worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture
and members of Congress to try to avoid this change and to oppose the use of similar non-tariff trade barriers. We are redoubling our efforts to work with federal legislators to develop a legal solution to this problem.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Contact your congressional representatives (click here to locate yours) and let us know if you do.
This is the sort of message they need to hear:
The futures of dozens of Wisconsin dairy farms have been put in danger because of Canada's use of non-tariff trade barriers to keep Wisconsin dairy processors from shipping ultra-filtered, high-protein milk to Canadian cheese makers. This is a product our processors want to sell and Canadian companies want to buy, but protectionism is getting in the way.
The situation these farmers are facing, not knowing who will take their milk, is a clear indication that trade policy matters to our farmers and can have painful, real-life consequences.
Please do everything you can to promote freer and fairer trade with Canada and other nations. Also, please work with the U.S. trade representative and the White House to stop this and other uses of non-tariff trade barriers by Canada. They hurt our farm families and other American businesses.
Here's a story about a call to action from national dairy groups.
The state agriculture department's Farm Center provides information and support for various situations. The services are professional, confidential and provided at no cost. As can be expected, the center is hearing from dairy farmers seeking assistance in finding processors willing to take on more volume.
The helpline: 1-800-942-2474. Click here for more about the center.
Public relations director