U.S. Dairy Earns Investment from New Market Development Program

USDEC received a $10 million award from USDA for its work on international dairy market development under its first allocation of funding under the Regional Agricultural Promotion Program (RAPP) announced May 20 following a strong push from NMPF and USDEC for increased investment in market promotion. USDA established RAPP last October to expand U.S. agriculture exports to new markets where demand for high-quality agricultural products is growing, including Southeast Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa.

RAPP’s launch was prompted by requests from Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow, D-MI, and Ranking Member John Boozman, R-AR to USDA regarding the need for greater international market expansion program funding.

In advance of that request, NMPF and USDEC advocated extensively with Congress regarding the importance of that additional investment, particularly at a time of dormant administrative trade policy initiatives.

NMPF Talks Trade and Collaboration with EU

NMPF staff met with European Union government officials and agriculture groups on April 8 as part of the U.S.-EU Collaboration Platform on Agriculture. The forum was launched by Secretary Tom Vilsack and EU Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski in 2021 to strengthen the relationship between the two industries and discussing best practices to collaboratively address shared challenges.

The meeting kicked off with a series of panel discussions. NMPF executive vice president for trade policy and global affairs Shawna Morris spoke on a panel entitled “The Future of the Livestock Sector: Pressures and Opportunities.” Morris underscored the U.S. dairy sector’s long-standing leadership on animal care through NMPF’s FARM program and ongoing work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, led by the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy.

Given the European Union’s tendency to impose burdensome regulations on its trading partners, Morris emphasized the importance of incentive-based policies, as opposed to counter-productive, prescriptive rules, particularly around climate and consumer preferences.

Following the conference, Morris participated in a subsequent discussion with EU Agriculture Ministry officials at an event organized by the U.S. Food and Agriculture Dialogue for Trade at the European Union’s embassy.

NMPF Secures Dairy Market Access Priorities in House Trade Program Renewal Bill

The House of Representatives introduced a bill on April 15 that would renew the Generalized Systems of Preferences (GSP) trade program with new agriculture-specific eligibility criteria. NMPF worked with Congressional offices to secure language giving U.S. dairy producers a fairer opportunity to sell their products in key markets.

Inactive since its expiration at the end of 2020, the GSP trade program eliminates U.S. duties for thousands of products imported to the U.S. from developing countries. U.S. dairy tariff rate quotas are not affected by the GSP program. To be GSP-eligible, countries must adhere to certain human rights and economic conditions. The House’s bill introduces new provisions that would provide a much-needed boost for the U.S. dairy industry, including requirements that beneficiary countries:

  • Provide open and equitable market access to U.S. agriculture exports and
  • Protect the generic use of common food and beverage terms.

Paired with the introduced Safeguarding American Value-Added Exports Act, this bill is positioned to strengthen the United States’ hand in combatting nontariff trade barriers in various export markets, including countering the European Union’s campaign to monopolize common name foods.

NMPF and USDEC Advocate for Enhanced Dairy Trade Opportunities at USTR Hearing

Tony Rice, Trade Policy Director for the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC), will testify this afternoon before the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) on how U.S. trade policy can strengthen supply chain resiliency and ensure that U.S. dairy continues to grow as a global leader.

The U.S. dairy industry exported more than $8 billion worth of products in 2023, supporting thousands of jobs and contributing significantly to the national economy. Rice in his testimony will highlight the need for a more proactive U.S. trade policy agenda that aggressively tackles global trade barriers and enhances market access to key partners.

“An inclusive, worker-centered trade policy should reflect the central role that comprehensive trade agreements and American exports play for the agricultural economy and the many farmers and workers throughout the supply chain who rely on it,” Rice says in his prepared statement. “Expanding export sales does not only support America’s farms, but also traditionally underserved workers in rural communities and in companies supplying inputs and services, in downstream food manufacturing plant jobs, and in cities with large port facilities heavily dependent on trade.”

Rice also recommends that USTR incorporate dairy-specific elements in trade negotiations, drawing on the precedent set by annexes for wine in various agreements, or the broad recognition of the U.S. regulatory system for processed foods including dairy in the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement.

“Such steps would facilitate smooth, more reliable and robust dairy supply chains with our trading partners,” Rice says in his statement.

Find NMPF and USDEC’s full testimony here.

NMPF’s Doud Discusses HPAI, FMMO Modernization

NMPF President & CEO Gregg Doud discusses dairy’s response to Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), the path forward for Federal Milk Marketing Order Modernization through an approach that puts farmers first, and opportunities for dairy in global markets. Doud spoke in an interview with the Agriculture of America podcast.


Pushing for Lower Tariffs Worldwide

Jaime Castaneda HeadshotBy Jaime Castaneda, Executive Vice President, Policy Development & Strategy, National Milk Producers Federation

Exports are critical to America’s dairy farmers and processors. Last year, the American dairy industry exported $8.1 billion in dairy products, roughly 17% of total U.S. milk production. That’s the second-best year on record, falling just short of 2022.

As global demand for high-quality and sustainably-produced dairy products will grow, the U.S. dairy industry must keep exports expanding to thrive today and over the long term. To help encourage that, and in the absence of efforts by the U.S. government to secure new market openings, the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) have taken the initiative to drive forward projects to pursue Most-Favored Nation (MFN) tariff reductions in multiple key export markets.

U.S. dairy’s quarter-century of export expansion hasn’t been by chance. The strong commitment from U.S. dairy producers and manufacturers to investing in painstakingly growing international sales, coupled with multiple trade agreements that opened the door for that growth to occur, are key drivers of the trend. Unfortunately, in recent years, anti-trade rhetoric has gained momentum from politicians on both sides of the aisle. Meanwhile, major competitors — namely in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand — have successfully negotiated new market access, advantaging their domestic producers through lower tariff rates and favorable trading conditions. The result is that U.S. producers are increasingly at a disadvantage in several key markets, including China and most countries in Southeast Asia.

MFN tariffs are tariff rates that one country applies to imports from all trading partners that are members of the World Trade Organization. Importantly, MFN tariffs do not apply to products that benefit from even lower rates due to preferential trade agreements, such as a free trade agreement or customs union.

Not content to yield key markets to trade competitors, NMPF and USDEC launched a formal initiative in 2014 to lower duties on U.S. dairy exports in China. Following years of engagement, that resulted in a tariff cut on U.S. cheese exports. A few years later in 2019, NMPF and USDEC’s efforts scored another breakthrough by securing tariff reductions on a variety of exported dairy products into Vietnam.

Halfway around the globe, NMPF and USDEC tallied a small victory in March by successfully petitioning the United Kingdom government to eliminate its 6% tariff on fat-filled milk powder for at least two years.

NMPF and USDEC are continuing to pursue MFN tariff cuts in other key markets around the globe as well, with an emphasis on the growing Asian region, even as government initiative is lacking.

For example, the Philippines is a sizable dairy importer, using those inputs in the Philippine food processing and food service sectors. NMPF and USDEC have impressed upon the Philippine government the advantages of diversifying its dairy supply chains further and are petitioning for MFN tariff reductions for a variety of products, including cheese, lactose, and milk powder.

Although these initiatives by NMPF and USDEC cannot fully replace government negotiation of new trade agreements, efforts to drive down tariffs in these countries represent just a few examples of the markets that NMPF and USDEC are prioritizing as they continue to fight for fair opportunities for U.S. dairy producers and companies to compete in the global market.

This column originally appeared in Hoard’s Dairyman Intel on April 4, 2024.

NMPF’s Castaneda Discusses WTO, India, CWT

NMPF Executive Vice President Jaime Castaneda discusses efforts to expand dairy market access at recent World Trade Organization meetings in Abu Dhabi in an interview with the Red River Radio Network. Castaneda also discusses trade relations with India and the importance of the NMPF-led Cooperatives Working Together program for the future of U.S. dairy exports.

NMPF Testifies on Common Names

NMPF Executive Vice President for Policy Development & Strategy Jaime Castaneda testified on the need for greater action from the U.S. government to proactively negotiate common names protections with trading partners, during a Feb. 21 hearing hosted by the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) office.

The hearing highlighted the agency’s annual Special 301 process, which seeks to identify intellectual property trade abuses around the world and set up USTR’s IP priorities for the following year.

NMPF and USDEC submitted joint comments in January that complemented a more comprehensive submission from the Consortium for Common Food Names. All three organizations emphasized the urgency of the issue and highlighted the damage done to American cheesemakers when they are not allowed to use the generic terms that consumers have known and loved for generations.

NMPF Letters Urge New Market Access

NMPF helped coordinate a pair of letters in February urging policymakers to prioritize new market access, as U.S. agriculture continues to lag behind competitors in the global economy.

NMPF, USDEC and other agricultural organizations signed a Feb. 15 letter to Congress that detailed how the lack of new market access is threatening food and agriculture industry profitability. The letter called for Congress to work with and press the current and future Administrations to open more doors for U.S. agriculture exports.

Meanwhile, the newly launched Ag Trade Caucus, created by Farmers for Free Trade with support from NMPF, sent a Feb. 20 letter to U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Katherine Tai and U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, urging the administration to continue to pursue agreements that address the trade barriers that are most harmful to U.S. dairy.

NMPF Represents U.S. Dairy at WTO Ministerial

NMPF Executive Vice President for Policy Development & Strategy Jaime Castaneda and Trade Policy Director Tony Rice advocated for U.S. dairy in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, Feb. 26-29, seeking improved market access and pro-dairy policies at the World Trade Organization Ministerial.

As a recognized non-government representative at the Ministerial, NMPF joined the U.S. Coalition for WTO Reform to advise U.S. government negotiators throughout the meeting, meet with the WTO Secretariat and likeminded delegations, and raise the profile of U.S. agricultural trade priorities.

Important issues at stake include:

  • Negotiations to reform the dispute settlement system.
  • The establishment of a work plan on agriculture that includes market access as a priority.
  • Pushing back against attempts to weaken WTO agricultural rules related to public stockholding subsidies and special safeguard mechanisms that would distort trade.

Castaneda also spoke at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce organized event on the importance of WTO dispute settlement reform and highlighted the outcomes that U.S. agriculture is prioritizing at the ministerial. Castaneda and Rice also met with U.S. Dairy Export Council international staff to receive the latest updates on barriers to trade in the Middle East and North Africa regions.

US-EU Trade Discussion Features NMPF’s Morris Representing Dairy

Shawna Morris, Executive Vice President for Trade Policy and Global Affairs, attended U.S. Trade and Technology Council (TTC) events on Jan. 30-31 representing U.S. dairy in discussions via the Transatlantic Initiative on Sustainable Trade (TIST) work program.

The European Commission launched the initiative last May to boost bilateral engagement with the United States and accelerate the transition to a climate-neutral economy. Morris participated in a high-level plenary session, a smaller breakout session, and a Jan. 30 welcome reception. While there she focused on the need to ensure EU agricultural policymaking is not wielded as a barrier to trade, encouraging the European Union to focus on collaboration on shared objectives rather than prescriptive dictates that would deepen U.S.-EU agricultural trade tensions.

Ag Trade Caucus Launches as NMPF Pushes Export Opportunities

NMPF Trade Policy Director Tony Rice joined Farmers for Free Trade for Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 meetings with key lawmakers and staff to promote a more proactive U.S. trade agenda. The meetings coincided with the Jan. 31 launch of the new Congressional Ag Trade Caucus, inspired by the farmer group to elevate the importance of trade policy that levels the global playing field for America’s dairy and ag producers.

Rice spoke with congressional staff about the need for new market access for American dairy exports, relaying the industry’s concern that U.S. exporters are seeing growing disadvantages versus America’s competitors. The discussions also offered the opportunity for NMPF and Farmers for Free Trade to educate newer congressional staffers from agricultural districts about the value of exports to their districts and constituents.