The National Milk Producers Federation expressed concern to the Bush Administration last week about the ongoing negative effects on the dairy industry of the Byrd Amendment, which is hampering export opportunities for the U.S.
In a letter to Trade Representative Rob Portman, NMPF, along with the U.S. Dairy Export Council, said that the Byrd Amendment has hurt U.S. access to its number one export market, Mexico. In August of 2005, Mexico imposed sanctions against U.S. dairy exports in retaliation for continued use of the Byrd Amendment by placing a new 30% tariff on dairy blends exported by the U.S. The Byrd amendment, which imposes higher tariffs on some imports coming into the U.S., was ruled illegal by the WTO, and Mexico has retaliated by hiking the dairy tariffs on U.S. exports.
The sanctions effectively halted a thriving business for U.S. dairy exporters. According to data from the U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service, the United States shipped 73,750 tons in 2004 under tariff line 1901.90.05, valued at $143.8 million. Market share had climbed from 12% in 2001 to nearly 85% during the first portion of 2005. These sales have been particularly important for U.S. dairy producers and dairy processors.
NMPF and the U.S. Dairy Export Council asked that this issue be addressed and a resolution sought as Portman met last week with Mexican officials.