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Member Co-op CEO Highlights Need for Export Markets at Virtual Town Hall

January 5, 2022

Robert Chesler, CEO of NMPF member cooperative United Dairymen of Arizona, emphasized the importance of securing new dairy market access opportunities through bilateral or multilateral Free Trade Agreements during a Dec. 14 Farmers for Free Trade (FFT) virtual town hall.

NMPF collaborates with the farmer trade group on town halls and meetings with public officials to tout the benefits of free trade and the need for the United States to pursue agreements that expand U.S. farm exports. The December town hall, headlined by Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA), focused on lost competitiveness for American dairy and agricultural producers as the U.S. government fails to move forward with new trade agreements.

During the virtual event, Chesler addressed the challenges that American dairy exporters face as trade competitors secure greater dairy market access in key export markets. Countries such as New Zealand, Australia, and the EU are aggressively pursuing new trade deals, which then harms the competitiveness of U.S. dairy products at a time when international demand is growing, Chesler said.

“We urge the Administration to seek Trade Promotion Authority renewal to go after new trade agreements,” Chesler said. “This is critical to realizing fully the potential of dairy markets in places like Vietnam, Indonesia, the United Kingdom and other major dairy purchasers. In the meantime, the U.S. should be using all types of trade tools to expand access and reduce barriers to U.S. exports with major agricultural importing markets.”

Chesler’s comments echoed statements made by Doug Chapin, Michigan Milk Producers Association chairman, at a Nov. 3 FFT town hall, part of NMPF’s effort to maintain grassroots pressure for the administration to act.

An NMPF and USDEC member based in Tempe, the United Dairymen of Arizona is a full-service milk marketing cooperative founded in 1960. Its farmer-owned manufacturing facility produces milk powder, cream, butter, and a variety of other dairy ingredients, many of which are exported around the world.