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Dairy Leader Calls for New Export Opportunities to Support Rural Economy

March 23, 2022

An Illinois dairy processor highlighted the importance of exports to dairy manufacturing jobs in a virtual townhall organized by Farmers for Free Trade (FFT) today. Chris Hoeger, vice president of procurement for Prairie Farms Dairy, Inc., participated in a panel with Representative Dusty Johnson (R-SD), farmers and economists to discuss the critical role U.S. agricultural exports have in supporting the rural economy.

A participant in the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and U.S. Dairy Export Council’s (USDEC) Dairy Trade Envoys program, Hoeger joined with the panel in calling on the U.S. government to pursue comprehensive trade deals. He noted that, in the absence of negotiations on tariff reductions, American dairy exporters face an increasingly unbalanced playing field as the European Union and New Zealand forge ahead with new agreements.

“We appreciate the Administration’s important work in enforcing existing trade deals, including USMCA, but without new access opportunities, U.S. dairy exports will continue to face a disadvantage, and American jobs will suffer as a result,” Hoeger shared in his remarks. “Workers in the dairy industry want the Biden trade policy strategy to include following through with agreements already under negotiation, such as with the United Kingdom, a big dairy importing market, as well as going after new deals.”

NMPF and USDEC are members of FFT. Both play an active role in helping the organization carry out its mission of informing the public about the benefits of free trade and supporting the pursuit of beneficial trade agreements that expand export opportunities for American farmers and workers throughout the export supply chain.

“We appreciate the opportunity this Farmers for Free Trade townhall has provided to highlight how exports benefit not only American dairy farms, but also the thousands of workers in the dairy industry at the manufacturing level and throughout the supporting supply chain,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “We believe expanding market access to key dairy markets where the United States currently competes at a disadvantage would create continued much-needed opportunities for America’s dairy cooperatives like Prairie Farms. NMPF thanks Chris Hoeger and Representative Johnson for highlighting that need during today’s event.”

“As Chris Hoeger outlined so well at today’s event, dairy exports have a deep and positive impact on food manufacturing jobs in Illinois and throughout the country,” said Krysta Harden, USDEC president and CEO. “As reiterated throughout today’s event, American agricultural exports have wide-ranging benefits for workers at the farm, at the processing plant, in the supply chain and beyond. We appreciate Farmers for Free Trade’s and Congressman Johnson’s persistent advocacy for greater market access opportunities that will continue to support and grow our rural economies and the millions of American jobs that depend on them.”

The Dairy Trade Envoys are a select group of dairy producers and processing staff focused on educating elected officials and media about dairy trade policy priorities.