NMPF Board Member Urges Congressional Focus on Agricultural Trade
July 6, 2022
Sheryl Meshke, co-president and CEO of Associated Milk Producers Inc. and a member of NMPF’s board of directors, told a Senate subcommittee on June 9 that the U.S. government must pursue additional market access opportunities and address export supply-chain delays in order for the U.S. dairy industry to keep up with its global competitors.
“In pursuing exports, the U.S. dairy industry faces experienced and well-established competitors who have been exceptionally active with free trade agreements,” Meshke told the Senate Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Commodities, Risk Management, and Trade. “The U.S. needs to get back in the game and craft an approach to pursuing comprehensive trade agreements.”
Meshke also emphasized the importance of enforcing existing trade agreements, particularly U.S. dairy export access to the Canadian market under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
American dairy risks losing its competitiveness, as the global playing field slowly tilts against the United States due to competitors’ trade agreements with key dairy importing markets, Meshke noted in her testimony. She also said U.S. trade negotiators need to target priority markets for expanded access, including Southeast Asia, Japan, China, the Middle East and the United Kingdom.
Meshke also emphasized the importance of combating non-tariff trade barriers, particularly the European Union’s (EU) aggressive efforts to confiscate food and beverage names in global markets by abusing geographical indications systems. She urged a strong defense of common food names: “We can’t wait any longer for the U.S. government to proactively defend the use of common food and beverage names against aggressive global efforts by the EU to restrict the use of generic terms we rely on.”
“As Sheryl outlined so well, we are now seeing dairy consumption grow at exceptional rates in many markets around the world,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “The U.S. dairy industry is well-positioned to meet the expanding global demand for sustainably produced dairy products. But to seize those opportunities, we must take a leadership role along with like-minded countries – advancing policies and crafting trade agreements that can deliver real benefits for dairy farmers.”