IDFA Applauds New Round of Trade Mitigation Measures by USDA, Including Payments and Purchases to Benefit the Dairy Industry

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced up to $16 billion in relief to U.S. agriculture as retaliatory tariffs from trading partners continue to disrupt U.S. export activity. International Dairy Foods Association president and CEO Michael Dykes, D.V.M., commended the announcement and appealed to the Administration to continue to focus on growing food and agricultural exports for dairy and other agriculture products.

“I applaud the Administration and leadership at USDA for working quickly to finalize a package of enhanced assistance that begins to address the uncertainty felt by U.S. food and agriculture due to disruptions in trade,” said Dykes. “While the share for dairy is not yet known, this trade relief package will include important market facilitation payments to dairy farmers as well as financial resources to continue USDA purchases of dairy products including fresh, nutritious milk to benefit food banks and food insecure Americans. Fresh milk is the most requested item at U.S. food banks, and this assistance from USDA should allow milk to reach those in need. While we welcome this support for the dairy industry, we strongly hope trade mitigation measures are replaced in short order by expanded trade opportunities. Retaliatory tariffs by China and other important markets have led to huge losses for our IDFA members while the Chinese market has increased dairy imports since the initial tariffs went into effect last July. Sales of U.S. dairy to China are down through March, with U.S. cheese exports declining 44 percent and U.S. whey to China falling 32 percent during the past nine months. What we need is a predictable, transparent and rules-based system of international trade that provides the agricultural economy with certainty and a clear path to growth. Most importantly, we must regain market share from our competitors who’ve benefited from these trade disputes. Over the next decade, China represents a $23 billion market opportunity for U.S. dairy, and it is essential to our nation’s economic future that make the most of it.”

USDA said that the trade mitigation payments and assistance to producers will be expanded to cover a wider variety of commodities, including to dairy farmers and for dairy products. USDA said the program is expected to go into effect by July 2019. Dykes stressed that the outstanding details on dairy farmer payments and the $1.4 billion commodity purchases are very important to IDFA members, who have already suffered a loss in dairy product sales in foreign countries where they have invested significantly to develop these export markets.

“Secretary Perdue understands and appreciates the role American food and agriculture play in global trade, and we’re grateful to him and his team for their support,” Dykes said.

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The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), Washington, D.C., represents the nation’s dairy manufacturing and marketing industry, which supports 3 million jobs that generate more than $161 billion in wages and delivers an overall economic impact of more than $628 billion. IDFA members range from multinational organizations to single-plant companies. Together they represent approximately 90 percent of the milk, cultured products, cheese, ice cream and frozen desserts produced and marketed in the United States and sold throughout the world. The diverse membership includes numerous food retailers, suppliers, cooperatives and companies that offer a wide variety of nutritional dairy products and dairy-derived ingredients.