The U.S. Dairy Export Council has joined up with several other dairy organizations and companies to fight against the Canada-European Union Free Trade Agreement.
The groups say the agreement will restrict lower-tariff access of U.S. cheese to Canadian markets and allow the EU larger access.
In addition to hurting U.S. cheese exports, the organizations say the Canadian plan violates the 1994 General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, which bars countries from using free trade agreements to restrict trade.
In a mid-August letter to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the organizations said the Canadian plan, included in a pending Canada-European Union free trade agreement, would give the EU exclusive access to more than 70 percent of Canada's Most Favored Nation cheese imports.
The agreement also stipulates use of common cheese names, the groups say.
"The Canada-EU free trade agreement was already problematic because it bars U.S. companies from using several common cheese names on products headed across our northern border," said Tom Suber, president of the U.S. Dairy Export Council. "And now it is clear that the same FTA would reserve 800 tons of an already low quota for cheese imports for the EU."
"This is not just bad policy," said Ken Meyers of MCT Dairies, a company in the coalition. "It flies in the face of what free trade agreements are all about. They are supposed to open trade, not restrict it."
"We expect to pick up support from more U.S. cheese companies as word of Canada's latest proposal trade restriction gets around," added Tom Gellert, vice president of Atalanta Corporation, another coalition company.
Additional groups in the coalition include: Darigold, Seattle, Wash.; Dairy Farmers of America, Kansas City, Mo.; Emmi Roth USA, Monroe, Wis.; Fonterra (USA) Inc., Rosemont, Ill.; Gellert Global Group, Elizabeth, N.J.; International Dairy Foods Association, Washington, D.C.; Kraft Foods Group, Inc., Northfield, Ill.; Land O' Lakes Inc., St. Paul, Minn.; Norseland, Darien, Conn.; Sartori Cheese, Plymouth, Wis.; Tipico Products, Lakewood, N.J.; Trugman Nash Inc., Millburn, N.J.; and Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, Madison, Wis.