|Teamsters and family farmer representatives, en route to the Congressional dairy caucus today.|
(UPDATES 8th graf to correct Dan sted Dennis.)
Teamsters and family farmers told members of Congress today that the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement could seriously harm American dairy farms and American dairy workers. Meanwhile, in Chicago, family farmers protested the trade deal at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago.
The TPPA, which involves a dozen Pacific Rim countries, will enter its 17th round of talks in May. Negotiators are hoping to wrap up the talks by October. The U.S. Congress has been asked to expedite approval of the deal through the Fast Track mechanism.
The labor and farm representatives urged members of the Congressional dairy caucus to reject Fast Track. They said Congress needed to vet every word of the TPPA for its impact on American dairy farms and dairy workers.
The labor-farm coalition members presented a letter outlining the potential dangers of the trade deal. It said, in part,
New market access for New Zealand’s monopolistic dairy sector would be especially damaging to U.S. dairy farmers and those who produce and process nonfat dry milk, butter fat or cheese.
The U.S. dairy industry generates $140 billion in economic activity and employs an estimated 900.000 workers, while providing nourishment to millions more. The nation simply cannot afford to compete with dairy imports produced under unfair conditions. It is critical that Congress provide clear direction and oversight regarding expectations for U.S. negotiators in order to avoid serious disruptions to agricultural sector livelihoods...
The TPP’s potential impact on the U.S. dairy sector is too important to adopt a “wait and see” approach towards the pact’s negotiation.
|Speaking out against the TPPA in Chicago|
The Teamsters Dairy Conference represents 30,000 dairy workers. Attending the meeting were Kathy Ozer, with the National Family Farm Coalition, Mike Stranz with the National Farmers Union, Mike Dolan and Dan Sullivan with the Teamsters.
In Chicago, the Family Farm Defenders held a speak out at the Merchandise Mart to protest the TPPA, which they said will "hurt farmers, workers, and consumers for the sake of greater corporate profits."
They are concerned that New Zealand's dairy industry will undercut the prices paid for fresh fluid milk to U.S. dairy farmers.
According to FFA's press release,
...the global corporate elite seeks to further undermine good paying jobs for US workers. TPP countries include Vietnam and Brunei, where independent unions are illegal and sweatshop labor is rampant. In Vietnam wages are only $2 a day and it is referred to as the low cost labor alternative to China. Not only will the TPP be detrimental to US workers, but it will likely continue in the steps of NAFTA, which dislocated millions of small farmers and workers in developing countries, and fueled the US immigration crisis.