Canada’s win against the U.S. in a long-running dairy quota dispute under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement has prompted one senator to call for retaliation. Opening Canada’s restrictive dairy market to more U.S. products was a key reason for negotiating USMCA.
But now that the U.S. has lost its fight over Canada’s tariff rate quota system that it claims unfairly favors Canadian producers, Senator Chuck Grassley was asked if USMCA’s worth the paper it’s written on and he said, “Yes, but it depends on whether the administration is willing to take counteraction against some product coming from Canada to show our dislike for it.”
Retaliation could be challenged also, but Grassley defends it saying, “This decision is a huge loss for American farmers. And I think we had 89 Senators vote for the USMCA, and it was because of its potential to expand dairy market access to Canada. And it’s disappointing the Biden Administration could not do more during the dispute panel to show how these quotas harm our farmers and is in violation of the USMCA.”
At the American Farm Bureau, senior director of government affairs Dave Salmonsen is not ready to give up on USMCA. Salmonsen says, “The plus side is, we have continued mostly tariff-free trade, and that trade continues on a daily basis, so that’s the big plus. But along with trade, you get trade problems. And we’ve got this problem with dairy.”
Salmonsen says USMCA has a built-in review mechanism that calls for a ‘refresh’ in 2026 when he expects the U.S. dairy industry to again raise the Canadian quota issue. Meantime, a USMCA panel could rule late next year on the U.S. case against Mexico’s decree against GMO yellow corn, which Salmonsen says was put off while Mexico looks for alternatives.