Land O'Lakes, Inc., a leading marketer of U.S. dairy products and a cooperative representing 5,000 dairy farm families, commends the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) on its role in pursuing the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling against Canada's new dairy export subsidies.

The ruling found that Canada has been improperly subsidizing its dairy exports, creating an unfair advantage for Canadians over U.S. farmers and dairy processors in world markets. According to the USTR, these subsidies result in up to $35 million per year of lost sales by American farmers and processors.

"The ruling reinforces the message that Canada must comply with the conditions of existing fair trade agreements," says Bob Bignami, a dairy farmer from Orland, Calif., and chairman of Land O'Lakes Policies and Resolutions Committee. "Land O'Lakes applauds the U.S. dairy trade organizations that pushed for this ruling and are continuously working to achieve fair trade in the world dairy market."

According to Bignami, this U.S. victory shows that the negotiating process works. "That's why it's important that the U.S. dairy industry supports continued trade negotiations," he says. "We may not always agree with every detail of a trade agreement. But the process does help improve the environment for world trade."

One way to expedite trade negotiations is through passage of legislation granting President George W. Bush Trade Promotion Authority (also referred to as "fast track" negotiating authority). Land O'Lakes members support the Administration's request for Trade Promotion Authority, which President Bush has said is essential for the United States to effectively participate in a new round of world trade negotiations.

"We commend the Bush Administration on its diligence to see this trade dispute through to a successful conclusion," says Bignami. "However, the Administration needs to recognize that other important trade issues affecting U.S. dairy farmers also require attention."

One of those issues is closing a loophole in current trade rules that allows some U.S. trading partners to ship unregulated quantities of milk protein concentrate (MPC) into the United States. "The unregulated MPC is disrupting our domestic market for nonfat dry milk," says Bignami. "We urge the Administration to support legislation in the House and Senate to close that loophole."

Bignami and other Land O'Lakes grassroots leaders work through organizations such as the National Milk Producers Federation and the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives to show legislators the role that the U.S. dairy industry plays in our economy and the need for them to support legislation benefiting U.S. farmers.

Land O'Lakes, Inc., supports the efforts of these organizations and USTR to negotiate for fair trade benefiting the U.S. dairy export market. "The WTO ruling shows that these efforts are paying off," says Bignami. "As a dairy producer, I appreciate their efforts, which will enhance our industry's ability to compete long-term in the world trade market."

Land O'Lakes (http://www.landolakesinc.com) is a national, farmer-owned food and agricultural cooperative, with sales approaching $6 billion. Land O'Lakes does business in all fifty states and more than fifty countries. It is a leading marketer of a full line of dairy-based consumer, foodservice and food ingredient products across the U.S.; serves its international customers with a variety of food and animal feed ingredients; and provides farmers and local cooperatives with an extensive line of agricultural supplies (feed, seed, crop nutrients and crop protection products) and services.