Legislation to close a trade loophole allowing unrestricted imports of milk protein concentrates (MPC) and casein was reintroduced in the U.S. Senate last week by Sens. Craig, R-Idaho, and Clinton, D-N.Y. Identical legislation, called the Milk Import Tariff Equity Act, was also introduced in the House by Congressmen Sherwood (R-PA) and Obey (D-WI).
In brief, the act would prevent the continued unrestricted access to our domestic dairy markets by imposing a tariff rate quota on imports of MPC and casein products intended for food and animal feed use. According to a 2004 investigation conducted by the U.S. International Trade Commission, the flood of imported casein and MPC over the last several years resulted in the displacement of domestic dairy production in the commercial market, and placed U.S. independent dairy producers at an economic disadvantage.
During first quarter 2005, MPC imports were up 57% over the same period last year -- the second highest first quarter total in history. "While certain imported powdered milk products are subject to tariff-rate quotas, MPC and casein werenâ€™t considered during the Uruguay Round WTO agreement, leaving a huge loophole that has had devastating impact on our dairy producers," says National Farmers Union President Dave Frederickson.