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NMPF Editorial in Cheese Reporter

January 7, 2020

In a guest column featured in Cheese Reporter, NMPF president and CEO Jim Mulhern offered an alternative approach to comments by the Cheese Importers Association of America (CIAA) regarding the WTO-authorized tariffs on European cheeses.

Mulhern noted that current dairy trade between the U.S. and the EU is mostly a one-way street. The EU’s restrictive trade policies have resulted in a deeply unbalanced, $1.6 billion dairy trade deficit, with the United States importing about $1.74 billion worth of dairy products from the EU, while the EU imported only $144 million in U.S. dairy in 2018.

That imbalance, in addition to the EU’s flooding of the global dairy market last year with government-held stocks of milk powder, has crucially contributed to the economic pressures that have driven thousands of American dairy farmers out of business.

Mulhern pointed out that cheese importers have access to some of the best cheese in the world in the U.S. and encouraged them to embrace this opportunity to support America’s dairy farmers and manufacturers by choosing to sell high-quality American products in place of European ones.

Many European cheeses and butter will still be imported if the WTO-compliant tariff penalties stay levied at their present 25% rate; higher tariffs are necessary for the United States to take the strongest stand possible against the EU’s mistreatment of American dairy products. NMPF is encouraging the administration to keep the existing dairy products on the retaliation list and increase tariffs on European dairy products, particularly those the United States is barred from shipping to the EU by geographical indications monopolies on common food names, in order to elicit action from the EU and truly establish a level playing field for U.S. farmers.