Governor Wolf Urges Canadian Prime Minister to Honor Dairy Trade Agreements

February 03, 2017

Harrisburg, PA – Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf today asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to honor long-standing trade agreements currently threatened by Canada’s plans to expand the scope of Ontario’s 2016 pilot program and to implement a new national ingredients pricing scheme.

“Milk production in the Northeast is valued at approximately $4.6 billion and provides thousands of jobs to our citizens, from processing businesses to production on family farms. If this market is lost, it will result in a large supply of milk being pushed back onto our Northeast domestic market, lowering farm milk prices for everyone,” Governor Wolf explained. “Current market conditions are unfavorable for our dairy farmers. With the closure of the Canadian market, Pennsylvania dairymen would see an even deeper decrease in the price of milk and a reduction in their income levels.”

Canada’s proposed national ingredients strategy pricing program is designed to impose trade barriers on ultra-filtered milk and other dairy products imported from Pennsylvania and surrounding Northeastern states. Canada’s efforts to expand the scope of the program will harm Pennsylvania’s dairy farmers, dairy processors, and others that benefit from the bi-lateral trade relationship.

As noted in the governor’s letter to Trudeau, Pennsylvania and Canada’s food and agriculture sectors rely on equitable trade between markets to remain profitable and viable. Canada is a top trading partner to a number of U.S. states, including Pennsylvania. Likewise, the commonwealth is a reliable market for Canadian exporters.

“By their very nature, import-export agreements are a matter of finding the right balance. Both Pennsylvania and Canada depend on equitable trade between markets to remain profitable and viable. Pennsylvania beef packaging plants, for example, process tens of millions of dollars of Canadian beef products each year,” Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding added. “Our food and agriculture industries rely on each other, and we want to work together to maintain an amicable trading relationship.”

In 2014, Canada threatened retaliatory measures on dairy importation regarding Country of Origin Labeling. Pennsylvania’s Congressional delegation worked hard to address Canadian concerns, and Congress ultimately repealed the legislation.

“It is disconcerting to now find ourselves the target of Canadian actions that we feel create barriers to our exports and threaten perfectly legal market access to an established sector. I ask for the same courtesy and prompt response to the state of affairs in Canada today,” Gov. Wolf said. “I urge you to consider the benefits of our trade relationship as well as Canada’s obligations under the World Trade Organization and the North American Free Trade Agreement. We ask that you reevaluate your present approach in light of the potential detrimental effect this decision would have on our bi-lateral trade relationship.”

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