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Dairy Urges U.S. to Emphasize Trade in Congressional Hearing

November 17, 2021

National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) First Vice Chairman and U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) board member Simon Vander Woude encouraged the U.S. government to prioritize expanded market access opportunities for U.S. dairy exports at a House Subcommittee for Livestock and Foreign Agriculture hearing today focused on trade policies and priorities.

Vander Woude and his wife, Christine, operate a 3,200-head dairy in Merced, CA. He also serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors of California Dairies, Inc. (CDI), the largest dairy farmer-owned cooperative in California and the second largest in the United States. With sixty percent of the cooperative’s milk powder sold to foreign markets, CDI’s 360 family-owned dairy farms strongly rely on U.S. trade policy tools to keep export markets for their products open and growing.

“I think Chairman Costa and Ranking Member Johnson for the opportunity to testify today about U.S. trade policies and priorities impacting the U.S dairy industry. Despite all the growth and success the dairy industry has enjoyed on the export front over the past two decades, we could be doing even better with a level playing field,” said Vander Woude. “While trade is all too often disparaged in this country and its benefits sold short, our competitors are busy forging new agreements. We farmers need a proactive trade policy to keep pace and continue to increase sales to support the good farm and manufacturing jobs our industry creates.”

Vander Woude stressed in his testimony the urgency of expanding access to key dairy markets like the UK, Asia (Japan, Southeast Asia, China) and the Middle East to catch up with dairy competitors whose countries have aggressively sought trade agreements over the past decade. Vander Woude also highlighted other policy priorities significantly impacting U.S. dairy operations, including the current supply chain crisis, securing long-term relief from Chinese retaliatory tariffs, and implementation and enforcement of existing trade agreements, including USMCA.

“As Simon outlined so well to the House Livestock and Foreign Agriculture subcommittee today, exports are essential to the health of dairy farmers and to our wider industry,” said Jim Mulhern, NMPF president and CEO. “New access into markets like Canada and Japan last year was a welcome first step, but still far less than what our farmers need to remain competitive globally. The United States needs to begin moving forward again with trade agreements and other policies that expand foreign market opportunities to help family dairy farms thrive and support the thousands of jobs that depend on dairy across this country.”

“Sound trade policy that opens doors for American-made products takes time to negotiate and the time is ripe for laying that foundation,” said Krysta Harden, USDEC president and CEO. “With the administration and Congress having charted progress on many domestic priorities, now is the time for the U.S. government to take a proactive approach to tearing down both tariff and nontariff trade barriers. We also need forward-looking solutions to the nation’s supply chain issues that are hindering U.S. exports, particularly in markets where America’s farmers are at a disadvantage to our competitors.”

Read full testimony here.