April 25, 2017

Job 1 for Perdue: Fix Canada Situation

 |  By: Mike Opperman

With Sonny Perdue’s confirmation as the new Secretary of Agriculture, he’ll hit the ground running on a number of important ag issues. Wisconsin legislators hope that the first issue he tackles is helping several Wisconsin dairy producers find a home for their milk.

While several of the original 75-or-so Wisconsin and Minnesota producers have found new buyers for their milk, it’s estimated that as many as 50 producers remain without a market. With the May 1 deadline quickly approaching, it’s all-hands-on-deck from the entire Wisconsin dairy industry to help these producers stay in business.

Wisconsin legislators are doing their part, and they wasted little time to encourage the new Ag Secretary to do something about the situation. Here’s what they said:

Republican Senator Ron Johnson: “Farming is a critical part of Wisconsin’s economy, and Sonny Perdue’s career has prepared him well to serve as secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Now that he's been confirmed, and on behalf of Wisconsin farm families, I urge the Secretary to take swift action to address Canada’s recent harmful actions on dairy exports."

Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin: “The first order of business is for the new Agriculture Secretary and the Trump Administration to act on restrictive Canadian trade barriers that are hurting American dairy farmers and processors. We need to make sure that Canada rescinds their unfair policy and plays by the rules. The Administration should also act immediately to assist impacted farmers directly. Following his confirmation, I encourage Secretary Perdue to come to Wisconsin to talk with our hardworking Wisconsin dairy farmers who need a level playing field. I stand as a willing partner to work with Secretary Perdue and President Trump to address this urgent issue. Dairy farmers should not have their businesses ruined and lives upended as a result of this unfair trade practice.”

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan: A spokesperson from the Wisconsin representative’s office stated that “We continue to meet with stakeholders affected by these actions and engage with the administration to reach a practical solution. Most recently, various dairy groups sent a letter to the President asking that he encourage Canadian government officials to pause their milk pricing program.”

A statement from the National Milk Producers Federation read: “Secretary Perdue knows that dairy farmers depend on export markets around the world and closer to home, which is why it is important for USDA to insist on preserving market access to key customers in Mexico, and demand that Canada plays by the international trade rules to which it has already agreed."