Trade ministers from Canada, Mexico and the United States are scheduled to confer digitally on Monday and Tuesday in the first meeting of the USMCA's Fair Trade Commission, with dairy expected to be the hot topic. U.S. dairy groups called on Sunday for the Biden administration to escalate an ongoing complaint against Canadian dairy quotas unless this week's meeting produces results.
Some dairy farmers and advocates are worried that president-elect Joe Biden's pick for agriculture secretary, Tom Vilsack, will do little to address their concerns about issues like consolidation, farm bankruptcies and low milk prices. Critics are especially concerned about how Vilsack’s years running a dairy industry trade group will affect his policymaking approach.(No paywall)
Six firms are seeing disruptions in the supply chain because of Covid-19 that could lead to shortages of animal drugs for the U.S. market, said the FDA in an update. Meanwhile, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said USDA animal scientists are "looking for any kind of possibility, even vaccines, that may help" against the viral disease.
Fundamental change in U.S. agricultural and rural policy is "an absolute necessity," said Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on Sunday in calling for Teddy "Roosevelt-style trust-busting laws to stop monopolization of markets and break up massive agribusinesses." In a position paper, Sanders, pursuing the Democratic nomination for president, endorsed supply management — federal control over farm production — higher minimum prices for major commodities such as grain and milk and a return to a government-owned grain reserve "to alleviate the need for government subsidies and ensure we have a food supply in case of extreme weather events."
President Trump veered between predicting easy approval of the new Canada-Mexico-U.S. trade agreement and expressing concerns about opposition to the pact on Monday while declaring that the agreement “is a very, very big deal for our farmers.”
The U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement that will succeed NAFTA includes the elimination of Canada’s Class 7 dairy price system and greater U.S. access to the Canadian dairy market than offered in the TPP free trade agreement, said senior administration officials late Sunday.
Amid rumors that Canada will offer concessions on dairy trade, former prime minister Brian Mulroney said he would be surprised if the new NAFTA did not include "flexibility" on the country's supply management system. Agriculture is a small part of NAFTA trade but it is a stubborn impediment in U.S.-Canada negotiations.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue described a potential tri-national agreement on a new NAFTA as the start of a domino effect in rewriting U.S. relations with trading partners around world. "I would love to have a deal today with Canada to put NAFTA back together," said Perdue during a C-SPAN interview in which he called for reform of Canada's supply-management system."
Dairy is not the only agricultural dispute between the United States and Canada, but it is the biggest one, according to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. Senior U.S. officials say the new NAFTA must include greater U.S. dairy access to Canada.
With negotiators facing an informal deadline of Friday for agreement on the new NAFTA, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada will reject U.S. proposals to dismantle its supply management system, said Canadian Press on Wednesday.