While the U.S. dairy producer sector supports the ongoing World Trade Organization negotiations that are focused on reforming the global food trade, any agreement that fails to remove existing inequities will be unacceptable, according to the National Milk Producers Federation.
Speaking at a hearing Wednesday before the House Agriculture Committee, Peter Kappelman, a dairy farmer from Two Rivers, Wisconsin, who serves as a Board member of NMPF, as well as the Chairman of Land O'Lakes, Inc., told the committee that the U.S. dairy industry, "although supportive of the direction our negotiators are leading us in â€“including the current U.S. proposal â€“ will never commit to unilateral disarmament or an inequitable level of concessions."
"Markets need to be opened overseas before we commit to sizable new openings in our own domestic market. Similarly, other countries must commit to reducing their heavy subsidies and lower their much higher tariffs before we take on further commitments," Kappelman says.
A good agreement, in the eyes of the dairy producer sector, "is one that will usher in a world without export subsidies; one with equity in tariff barriers (greater access for our exports) and more equal levels of domestic support between the U.S. and the EU, while maintaining high enough levels of funding to support U.S. agriculture in all manner of WTO colored boxes," Kappelman says.
"Although a successful Doha Round may require some changes to U.S. domestic support, the U.S. dairy industry remains interested in keeping our price support program as the primary dairy safety net," he says.
He says that if the WTO negotiations did not result in great strides towards eliminating the existing disparities in dairy trade practices, NMPF would not support any such agreement.
"At the end of the negotiations, we cannot be in a situation where Canadian and European markets remain isolated from international market forces, while we in the United States continue to serve as the dumping ground for the world's suppliers," Kappelman says.
In light of that concern, Kappelman called the most recent WTO reform proposal made last week by the EU to be unacceptable, because it maintains high levels of disparity between the U.S. and the EU in domestic support programs.
"The EU proposal with respect to domestic support and market access does not reflect a balanced proposal when compared to the recent U.S. offer," Kappelman says.
He concludes by urging the Agriculture Committee members to closely monitor the WTO talks, reminding them that "The Doha Round remains the single best shot we have at trying to improve the situation our industry faces here and abroad. American dairy producers remain deeply engaged in its negotiations."