By: Wisconsin Ag Connection

Dozens of Congressmen, including three from Wisconsin, are calling on U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to work toward negotiating an end to Canada's Class VII dairy pricing program during upcoming NAFTA negotiations. In a letter to the trade ambassador, the lawmakers claim America's dairy farmers and those whose jobs are tied to the dairy product manufacturing sector are experiencing limited markets and deeply depressed farm income levels under the current arrangement.

"The new Class VII pricing system within the Canadian National Ingredient Strategy introduced in February 2017 has negatively impacted dairy farmers in Wisconsin by favoring Canadian milk products," said Rep. Ron Kind. "Under the National Ingredient Strategy, Canadian milk product ingredients are priced at or below internationally competitive levels, undercutting Wisconsin dairy farmers not only in Canada but allowing dumped Canadian product to threaten market access for Wisconsin farmers globally."

Reps. Sean Duffy and Jim Sensenbrenner also signed the memo. They stated that its 'critical' that the Administration achieves its established goals of eliminating Canada's newer milk program and dairy tariff walls.

"The industry is counting on the USTR to deliver in these key areas, which would spur U.S. exports and therefore help contribute to favorable gains in the U.S. trade balance in the NAFTA markets," the letter read. "This Administration, with strong support from Congress, has rightfully condemned Canada's actions on dairy trade over the past year. While Canada is one of our strongest allies and trading partners, its approach to dairy policy has been on that for too long has used various policy tools to impact trade in ways that directly harm our dairy industry."

Several dairy groups also commented on the lawmakers' request on Wednesday, stating that it's 'imperative that we do note lose this opportunity to tackle these problems.'

The International Dairy Foods Association says Canada has imposed stiff tariffs of 200 to 300 percent on U.S. dairy exports for many years, causing dairy farmers to face dire economic conditions in recent years.