A Free Trade Agreement negotiated this weekend with Australia will preserve the American dairy system, local lawmakers say.
Increased pressure from lawmakers in both parties and the dairy industry has prompted the U.S. Trade Ambassador to preserve most of America’s existing dairy tariff structure in the just-completed U.S.—Australia Free Trade Agreement, U.S. Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., confirmed on Monday.
The trade pact with Australia could have lead to a flood of dairy imports, and could have resulted in the loss of 150,000 jobs nationwide, according to the National Milk Producers Federation.
“This is a victory for every person in New Mexico who picked up the phone, who wrote a letter, who sent an e-mail telling both my office and the trade ambassador to consider the negative consequences of an unfair trade agreement,” Udall said in a press release. “I believe that when we fight, we can win.”
The agreement provides continued protection against a full-fledged free trade of dairy products into the U.S. market.
Roosevelt County dairy operators last week were concerned the agreement would put a negatively affect their operations.
Alva Carter Sr., co-owner of the family-owned Carter’s Milk Factory, said insurance, taxes and minimum wage standards allow other countries to produce milk cheaper. If they could trade their products freely into the United States, the American dairy operator would suffer the consequences.
Carter, who is on the corporate Board for Dairy Farmers of America, said it looks like everything worked out for American dairies.
“Looks like everything worked out,” Carter said Tuesday. “For a while there we were worried.”
Carter said he helped organize a letter campaign two weeks ago with officials at DFA lobbying for a trade agreement that would protect American dairy operators.
He said many people in eastern New Mexico voiced their concern about the agreement, which helped land a free trade that he says protects America’s dairies.