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 US dairy farmers claim New Zealand’s dairy industry is a monopoly that has the potential to undercut prices and lead to massive losses in the US.

 A group of US Senators, including Wisconsin’s Russ Feingold, are leading a bipartisan effort to urge the Obama Administration to carefully consider the threat to US dairy farmers and processors in upcoming trade negotiations involving New Zealand, according to online network for Wisconsin Agriculture farmers, Wisconsin Ag Connection.

The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is an eight-member trade deal which includes the United States.

The Middleton Democrat Russ Feingold said one-sided dairy provisions in trade negotiations involving New Zealand will be discussed at upcoming meetings later this month on the Trans Pacific Partnership.

In a letter sent to US Trade Representative Ron Kirk, the senators raised concerns that anti-competitive practices in New Zealand’s dairy industry could greatly harm US dairy farmers. The letter cited the NZ dairy production as being 90% controlled by one company that also controls about 40% of key internationally traded dairy commodities.

 “Past trade agreements have opened opportunities for foreign farmers, including those in New Zealand, but it hasn’t been a two-way street,” Feingold said. “With American dairy farmers facing record low dairy prices, it is exactly the wrong time for another trade agreement that short-changes them. The Obama administration must ensure that any agreement supports the long-term viability of America’s dairy farmers.”

The letter stated that New Zealand’s dairy industry is a global power dominated by one company that could undercut the US dairy industry while providing few additional export opportunities for American farmers and processors.

Losses for US dairy producers may add up to USD$20 billion over the first decade of the agreement if the US fully phases out restrictions on NZ dairy imports under the TPP deal, the article said.

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