Ag groups have presented differing opinions of ongoing negotiations between the U.S. and the European Union towards a transatlantic free trade agreement, with some livestock groups encouraged by potential economic benefits and some dairy groups concerned about market access offers.
Though both groups agree that sanitary and phyto-sanitary issues will likely be a key sticking point in negotiations, dairy groups say the EU agreement could have tremendous impacts on the dairy market as a result of imports.
Groups send letters expressing viewpoints
In a letter sent to legislators Monday, groups concerned about market access focused attention on the dairy industry, which they say cannot afford to compete with dairy imports produced under "unfair conditions."
The groups said legislators must avoid unfair conditions by writing safeguards directly into whatever trade policymaking they choose to grant the executive. They say Congress should require that the U.S. Trade Representative's Office publish all negotiating texts, provide negotiators with objectives that guarantee U.S. goals regarding food safety, and include a process that requires Congress vote to certify that the agreement is within the public interest.
The Citizens Trade Campaign, Family Farm Defenders, Food & Water Watch, Federation of Southern Cooperatives, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, League of Rural Voters, National Dairy Producers Organization, National Family Farm Coalition, National Farmers Union and Rural Coalition signed the letter.
Phyto-sanitary issues also a concern for proponents
Sixty-four food and ag groups widely praising the trade negotiations this week sent a letter to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, urging more action, but also agreeing that more regulations be included.
They called for a "negotiation that covers all significant barriers in a single comprehensive agreement."
The coalition expressed concern with a trade working group report that suggested an initial U.S.-EU FTA be designed to "evolve over time," eliminating most barriers to trade and investment but setting up a mechanism to address other barriers.
Recent statements from EU officials, the group says, have also raised doubts about the EU's commitment to dealing with sanitary and phytosanitary issues as part of the negotiations.
SPS issues must be addressed as part of the negotiations, the coalition wrote, not simply left to some future consultative mechanism, and SPS provisions must be enforceable.
The coalition pointed out that they believe a comprehensive and ambitious U.S.-EU FTA will generate economic growth, reduce market volatility and create thousands of new jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.