GREEN BAY — Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative representatives praised Friday’s signing of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) — a replacement for NAFTA — but said more needs to be done to resolve tariff issues that continue to hurt farmers. The Co-op represents dairy farmers not only in Wisconsin, but across the Midwest.
According to Edge President Brody Stapel, USMCA includes important provisions for dairy, including retaining market certainty with Mexico, protecting common cheese names in the Mexican market, adding transparency provisions for oversight of Canada’s internal pricing structure and placing limits on certain Canadian exports. The deal still needs to be approved by Congress, a process that will likely push into 2019.
“Mexico is the most important trading partner for our dairy community, and changes in the deal with Canada should provide benefits there also,” said Stapel, who owns a dairy farm in Cedar Grove in Sheboygan County. “At minimum, this gives hope to our dairy farmers who have been fighting to make it through a very difficult time. However, it’s still unclear how extensive the pricing changes would be and how the new structure would work.”
Stapel said now that USMCA has been resolved, the United States now needs to take action to resolve separate tariffs between the United States and Mexico. After the United States put tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, Mexico responded by placing tariffs on U.S. dairy products.
“We can’t stress enough to the administration that the dairy community is suffering because of this situation,” he said. “Without an end to the tariffs, the new agreement will be less than a complete win for us.”