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Dairy clarification wanted with the new USMCA

Published: Aug. 28, 2020 at 8:09 AM CDT
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ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) - Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle want some clarification and assurances regarding the treatment of dairy in the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Free Trade Agreement. About a month ago members of the House sent a letter of concern to our Trade Ambassador’s office and the USDA and now a group of 25 senators have done the same. They’re concerned that Canada is putting the deal in place in such a way as to prevent U.S. dairy products from gaining access to Canadian markets as called for in the deal. They are reportedly finding ways to work around the language that would end their protective Class 6 and Class 7 milk provisions. As for Mexico, Congress wants them to guarantee they won’t restrict imports of U.S. products like cheese because of European efforts to restrict use of place names like feta, mozzarella, gorgonzola, Gouda and others.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said this week that the second round of payments to farmers through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program will be unveiled in early September. He said the USDA will have about $14 billion to send out under authority from the Commodity Credit Corporation. In addition, Perdue said, he’s looking to include more commodities in this next round of payments.

Consumer food prices were down 1% in July for food eaten at home, but for the year they are expected to be up by about 3%. Prices for food eaten at restaurants were up a half percent for the month as they are up almost 2 and a half percent for the year. For the year the all food price is expected to be 2 to 3 percent in 2020.

China is buying U.S. farm products at a record rate. Last week the Chinese bought over 3,315 tons of U.S. beef, their largest single buy from the United States since they started keeping records in 1999. They also bought over 11,200 tons of pork last week as they try to reach the goals set in the U.S. China Phase One trade agreement. In a separate deal we also sold 747 thousand tons of U.S. corn to the Chinese for shipment during the new marketing year which begins on September 1st. So far this year, the Chinese have bought just over 7 and a quarter billion dollars worth of U.S. farm products, but that’s well below the 36 and a half billion dollars worth of product they promised to buy in that trade deal.

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