A chicken-and-egg conundrum in trade negotiations with Turkey could end U.S. dairy market access there December 31.
"Even though Turkey is not yet a member of the European Union, it has decided it would require exporters to use a sanitary certificate that exactly mirrors the EU certificate," says Alan Levitt, vice president of communications for the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC). "However, the U.S. government won't sign an EU certificate for a non-EU country."
This impasse has been going on for a while, and the Turkish government had granted a one-year extension that ends December 31. USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service has offered a compromise, but the Turks have not yet responded.
Traditionally, Turkey has been a small U.S. dairy export destination, taking in just $7 million worth of dairy products on average over the past five years. "Turkey is a small market for us, but the closure is significant," says Levitt. "We never want to be shut out of a market."
Here’s why: In just the first 10 months of 2013, U.S. dairy exports to Turkey shot up to $24 million, says Levitt. Three-fourths of that was butterfat sales, with another million dollars’ worth of sales going to milk powder, lactose and cheese each.