US Trade Policy Milks America’s Dairy Farmers

U.S. dairy is in trouble. That’s why, in a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, 50 members of the House of Representatives lobbied for greater access to the Japanese market. They’re in for a big disappointment.

Japan is a big market for U.S. dairy. And dairy is an important agricultural export for the United States. Dairy farms have been hit hard over the past few years, with more than 6,000 having gone out of business, amounting to a 15 percent decline. The letter looks to Japan, where demand will shortly outstrip domestic supply. Opportunity beckons.

But there’s a problem. Japan has trade agreements with Europe on the one hand, and Canada, New Zealand and other powerhouse dairy exporters through the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) on the other. These agreements include tariff and other preferences that give European, Canadian and New Zealand exporters a big advantage over U.S. dairy.

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