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State Officials Hopeful Vt. Dairy Farmers Will Benefit Under New US-Canada Trade Deal

Former Vermont Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets Roger Albee chronicles the national and local history around the founding of two dairy co-ops back in 1919. The co-ops are now celebrating their 100th anniversary.
Ric Cengeri
VPR file
State officials say the proposed trade deal between the U.S. and Canada could boost milk prices for Vermont farmers, by opening up the Canadian market to increased U.S. dairy exports.

State officials say the proposed new rules for cross-border commerce between the United States and Canada could be good news for Vermont dairy farmers.

Vermont Secretary of Agriculture Anson Tebbetts says the proposed trade deal inked by Canada, the U.S. and Mexico on Sunday night appears to open up the Canadian market to increased dairy exports from U.S. farms.

Tebbetts said Monday his office is still reviewing the proposed trade deal, which would replace the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“What we’ll be looking for is whether U.S. dairy can get back into some of those markets in Canada, mainly with skim milk powder and also with infant formula,” Tebbetts said. “The more we can export, the likelier it will drive up prices for farmers in Vermont.

Sen. Patrick Leahy said Monday that early reactions from U.S. dairy officials have been mostly positive, but that he’s reserving judgement until he learns more.

“I want to see what the wording is,” Leahy said. “I’ve been a lawyer long enough that I actually want to see the papers.”

While early signals may look good for Vermont’s dairy industry, Leahy said other provisions in the proposed trade deal could be more problematic. Higher tariffs on steel and aluminum imports imposed by the Trump administration earlier this year would, according to Leahy, stay in place under the new trade arrangement.

Leahy said those tariffs are “affecting longstanding companies adversely here in Vermont.”

Gov. Phil Scott said in a statement Monday that his administration is still assessing the particulars of the proposed trade deal:

"While we work to learn more and fully understand the impact for Vermonters and Vermont businesses, I'm optimistic the updated agreement will have a positive impact in Vermont, particularly for our dairy industry. I look forward to working with my team to further analyze this latest agreement and the impacts for our state."

The Vermont Statehouse is often called the people’s house. I am your eyes and ears there. I keep a close eye on how legislation could affect your life; I also regularly speak to the people who write that legislation.
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