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.

NMPF Champions President’s Export Council Recommendations after Canada Disappointment

The President’s Export Council approved an agricultural trade proposal introduced by NMPF member Land O’Lakes at a Nov. 29 council meeting. The unanimous decision followed a Nov. 27 letter of support coordinated by NMPF and the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and signed by 35 leading agricultural organizations.

The approved proposal calls on the administration to diversify the U.S. agricultural supply chain, establish a robust agricultural trade agenda, enforce existing trade agreements, and lead on international climate initiatives.

The President’s Export Council is the primary White House advisory committee on international trade. It includes a broad mix of groups, with Land O’Lakes being the sole agricultural voice. To build support for the recommendations, the letter highlighted the importance of agricultural trade for the U.S. economy and the indispensable role that American agriculture plays in achieving global food security.

With a projected food and agriculture trade deficit of $17 billion for 2023, the letter calls on the administration to implement the recommendations and provide the U.S food and agriculture industry an opportunity to meet growing international demand.

The need to prioritize proper enforcement of trade agreements became especially timely after a U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) dispute panel ruling issued Nov. 24 that will allow Canada to continue to restrict market access for U.S. dairy products, weakening the agreement’s principles.

The ruling follows nearly two years of NMPF advocacy and collaboration with the U.S. Trade Representative and U.S. Department of Agriculture aimed at enforcing USMCA’s dairy provisions.

An earlier panel ruled in January 2022 that Canada had improperly restricted access for U.S. dairy products. In response, Canada made inadequate changes to its dairy tariff rate quota system, resulting in a second challenge by the United States. The decision means Canada is not obligated to make further changes, a disappointment to U.S. dairy farmers and exporters.

“It is profoundly disappointing that the dispute settlement panel has ruled in favor of obstruction of trade rather than trade facilitation,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “Despite this independent panel’s adverse ruling, we’d like to thank the Biden Administration and the many members of Congress who supported us for their tireless pursuit of justice for America’s dairy sector. We urge Ambassador Tai and Secretary Vilsack to look at all available options to ensure that Canada stops playing games and respects what was negotiated.”

Despite the discouraging result, NMPF will continue to work with USTR and USDA to address Canada’s ongoing practices to depress U.S. imports and distort dairy trade.

NMPF’s Bjerga on Trade, FMMO

NMPF Executive Vice President Alan Bjerga speaks with RFD-TV about how all of agriculture needs to fight for the integrity of trade agreements in the wake of a USMCA dispute panel decision that failed to protect U.S. access to Canada’s market. The President’s Export Council, with member co-op Land O’Lakes representing farmers, discussed the importance of market access in a White House meeting on Wednesday. Bjerga also talked about the resumption of the USDA Federal Milk Marketing Order hearing in Indiana this week, and how repeated delays aren’t helpful for milk producers.

USMCA Dispute Panel Limits Canadian Market Access

Today’s ruling by a U.S-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) dispute panel allowing Canada to restrict the dairy access that the United States negotiated for in the USMCA pact weakens the agreement’s value to the US dairy industry, according to the National Milk Producers Federation and the U.S. Dairy Export Council.

An earlier panel ruled in January 2022 that Canada had improperly restricted access to its market for U.S. dairy products. In response, Canada made insufficient changes to its dairy tariff rate quota (TRQ) system, resulting in an outcome that still fell far short of the market access the U.S. expected to receive under USMCA. To address that shortcoming, the U.S. brought a second case to challenge the changes that Canada instituted. Today the panel announced that Canada was not obligated to make further changes.

“It is profoundly disappointing that the dispute settlement panel has ruled in favor of obstruction of trade rather than trade facilitation,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “Despite this independent panel’s adverse ruling, we’d like to thank the Biden Administration and the many members of Congress who supported us for their tireless pursuit of justice for America’s dairy sector. We urge Ambassador Tai and Secretary Vilsack to look at all available options to ensure that Canada stops playing games and respects what was negotiated.”

Since the U.S. Trade Representative initially launched the first dispute settlement case against Canada in 2021, USDEC and NMPF have worked with USTR, USDA, and Congress to try to secure full use and value of USMCA’s dairy TRQs for American dairy producers and processors.

“By allowing Canada to ignore its USMCA obligations, this ruling has unfortunately set a dangerous and damaging precedent,” said Krysta Harden, president and CEO of USDEC. “We do however want to express our appreciation for allies in Congress and the Administration for their efforts and commitment to fighting for U.S. dairy. This is unfortunately not the only shortcoming in Canada’s compliance with its international commitments. We are committed to working with USTR and USDA to evaluate efforts to address Canada’s continued harmful actions that depress dairy imports while simultaneously evading USMCA’s dairy export disciplines.”

When first implemented in 2020, USMCA established 14 different TRQs, which allow a predetermined quantity of imports at a specified low tariff rate. The TRQ system that Canada implemented awarded the vast majority of TRQ volumes to Canadian processors and granted very limited access to TRQs to distributors – resulting in limited market access for U.S. exporters. Minor modifications to that system made in 2022 have continued that imbalanced approach.

Overcoming challenges is what we do

By Randy Mooney, Chairman, NMPF Board of Directors

We’ve had a lot of achievements this year, but it’s also been a challenging time.

A year ago, costs on the farm were extremely high, but we had prices that would cover that. This year, costs are still high, but prices are down. That’s a lot of stress on the farm. And we’re also dealing with problems that we’ve dealt with for years.

There are labor problems; you just can’t find anybody to work. Supply chain disruptions are closer to the farm this year. It’s milk trucks getting milk off the farm; it’s feed trucks bringing feed into the farm. It’s getting simple parts that we took for granted we could get anytime we wanted to. There are geopolitical issues and extreme weather events.

We have challenges all the time, but it just seems like we continue to have more. It seems like we’re in the eye of a storm. But as farmers, we always anticipate a moment before the dawn, before things turn, before things get good again.

One of the things I’ve learned is that a lot of the world is envious of what we have.

They’re envious because we have the Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Program, a self-governing program. We have a government that recognizes what we’re doing with sustainability — it’s not being mandated down from the top.

We’re taking care of our own. Today, we produce more milk using fewer and fewer natural resources. We’re revitalizing rural communities. For every dollar generated in dairy farming, it turns over three to seven times in local communities, generating $750 billion in the United States. That‘s pretty impressive.

We’re nourishing families around the world through milk’s unbeatable nutritional value. I’ve dairy farmed for a long time, through good times and bad times, but there’s never been a time that I haven’t laid my head down on my pillow at night and been proud of what I accomplished on my farm. We’re putting the most nourishing, most nutritious product known to man in that milk tank. And when that truck leaves, I know I’ve done something good.

Our ability to evolve how we work and adapt our resiliency is becoming more and more important. This year, we came together as an industry to unite around issues that helped build that resiliency. NMPF worked with member co-ops, farm bureaus, and state dairy organizations to come to consensus on the most substantial issues. Even going back to 2021, when you talk about Federal Milk Marketing Order modernization, we’ve worked hard to get these things done. Nobody knows what the outcome’s going to be, but you telling your story has made a difference.

Beyond that, we’re going to get a farm bill passed — we’re going have an extension. We’ve been working to implement the next version of FARM, FARM 5.0, that goes into effect in July. We also will work on promoting dairy’s sustainable nutrition. Dairy offers the most complete nutritional package available, and what’s amazing is that as we produce more milk, we’ll continue to use fewer natural resources. That’s the definition of sustainable nutrition.

For years, we’ve talked about sustainability in terms of environmental stewardship and how that translates into financial value for farms. Now, the financial values are there. You take solar panels, wind, methane digesters, and a lot of things happen on a farm that’s generating electricity to run your farms and to run your neighbor’s households. We’re there now. What we need is conservation funding in the farm bill through USDA grants through state and federal programs. There’s real money available to help us continue to do that, and we will.

No imitation food from a nut, a bean, or grain can hold a candle to dairy’s nutritional package. We all know that. That’s why it’s important to keep fighting the fight on plant-based alternative labeling. In the guidance that was issued earlier this year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recognized and admitted that plant-based alternatives are nutritionally inferior to real dairy.

Dairy protein plays a critical role in feeding people around the world, and it can’t be replaced by alternatives, including plant-based. Consumers have the right to understand how they’re nourishing their families, and we’re going to continue to advocate for the Dairy PRIDE Act to try to get that passed in Congress.

We’re going to continue to fight for more flavored milk in schools and higher fat levels, especially for those children whose main source of nutrition is through the school milk program. Milk is essential to their diets, and we’re not going to give up that fight. We’re all part of an industry that’s doing remarkable things. We are winning.


This has been adapted from Chairman of the NMPF Board of Directors Randy Mooney’s speech at the National Milk Producers Federation annual meeting in Orlando, Fla., on Nov. 14, 2023. This column originally appeared in Hoard’s Dairyman Intel on Nov. 22, 2023.

Dairy is a staple in spite of inflation

By Allison Wilton, Coordinator, Economic Policy and Global Analysis, NMPF

U.S. dairy consumption has been steadily rising for years, reaching more than 11.5 million metric tons (milk solids equivalent) in 2022. This is up 15% from ten years ago. As one of the highest dairy consuming countries in the world, U.S. per capita consumption of cheese, yogurt, and butter has grown steadily for years. Recent food trends are bringing fun and innovative twists on common dairy products; as examples, butter boards went viral last year as a new “charcuterie” option, and health influencers are raving about the benefits of adding cottage cheese into recipes for higher protein and healthy fats. Ultimately, dairy demand remains resilient even when facing significant headwinds.Dairy’s resiliency is true on a global basis, too. On average, 13% of the global consumer’s protein came from dairy in 2022, a rise compared to 2021 and a significant leap over the past decade. In fact, global dairy protein consumption has grown by nearly 25% over the last decade.

 

Still, despite that resiliency, inflation and economic uncertainty have affected consumers and the dairy industry.

Inflation had mixed effects

In 2022, consumers started to really take notice of rising grocery and food costs. Prices for goods across all categories, not just dairy, were starting to climb more than usual due to several factors, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and international supply chain disruptions. Inflation reached a peak in summer of 2022, and though it has eased slightly since, prices are still significantly higher compared to three years ago.

 

Source: NMPF-USDEC, IRI, NPD

Grocery and food items were some of the most prevalent and hardest hit areas by inflation, and dairy products were not immune. The price of dairy in food and beverage stores rose by more than 15% in 2022 compared to 2021, the highest jump in prices of all categories. The value of dairy sales grew significantly in 2022. Even so, and although this can partially be attributed to the higher prices, the growth in dairy sales (up 14.7%) outpaced that of non-dairy categories (8.3% greater).

Additionally, though all categories’ volume fell, the volume of dairy products sold fell less than that of non-dairy products. In other words: even though dairy had higher inflation rates, the slide in volume sold was less than the dip of other food and beverage categories. Shoppers were continuing to put dairy products in their cart despite the higher prices. That’s a testament to the dairy’s place as a dietary staple for many around the country and the world.

Dairy demand persists

Consumers prefer dairy products over plant-based alternatives: sales of cheese, frozen products, and other dairy goods dwarf plant-based imitations in stores. As even more alternatives fill shelves, dairy doesn’t lose shelf space. Rather, per capita consumption in several areas have grown, including cheese (up 17% from 2020), yogurt (up 5%), and butter (up 21%). The dairy aisle remains of top value when compared to other aisles within major food and beverage stores and is one of the fastest growing aisles in terms of sales dollars, topping $75 billion in 2022.

Cheese is expected to grow only more popular as time goes on, as is butter and yogurt. The U.S. dairy industry is poised to meet this demand as the industry advances in the coming years. As inflation wanes, consumers may return to trying higher value dairy products, of which there is no shortage. U.S. dairy will continue to be a major part of consumers’ diets and shopping carts.


This column originally appeared in Hoard’s Dairyman Intel on Nov. 9, 2023.

USDEC’s Harden discusses USDA Support for Trade


Krysta Harden, president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council, discusses the value of USDA support for U.S. agricultural exports in an interview with RFD-TV from the World Food Prize in Des Moines, IA. The department said Oct. 24 it plans to devote $2.3 billion from the Commodity Credit Corporation to promoting better market opportunities for U.S. agricultural producers and expanding food aid to support communities in need around the world, a move advocated for by NMPF and USDEC.

NMPF’s Jonker brings the IDF World Dairy Summit home

 

NMPF Chief Science Officer Jamie Jonker connects the themes of the World Dairy Summit, which concluded in Chicago on Thursday, to advancing the interests of U.S. dairy farmers. The summit, hosted by the United States for the first time since 1994, had attendees from 55 countries and activities from technical panels to farm tours.

Trade Team Builds International Ties While Supporting U.S. Dairy

  • Championed the introduction of the Safeguarding American Value-Added Exports (SAVE) Act to protect market access for U.S. cheesemakers
  • Secured the right of producers to use the common name “gruyere” in the U.S. market through a landmark legal victory in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
  • Led engagement with the U.S. government to hold Canada accountable for its ongoing violations of USMCA’s dairy provisions
  • Promoted U.S. dairy’s trade initiatives and sustainability progress as lead sponsor of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation’s agricultural ministerial luncheon in Seattle
  • Formed alliances with dairy and agricultural organizations worldwide to strengthen and grow NMPF’s voice.

NMPF trade activities this year have included initiatives that defend U.S. products in the global arena while expanding trade. Efforts made in collaboration with the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and the Consortium for Common Food Names (CCFN) prompted the May 17 introduction of the bipartisan, bicameral Safeguarding American Value-Added Exports (SAVE) Act to increase U.S. government actions to protect common terms like “parmesan” and “feta” in export markets. The milestone bill to advance common name protections capped off months of congressional engagement, including a March 1 event on Capitol Hill.

The SAVE Act explicitly defines “common names” as a term ordinarily used for marketing a food product, as determined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and directs the U.S. government to proactively defend the rights of U.S. common name users and exporters. Led in the Senate by Sens. John Thune, R-SD, Tammy Baldwin, D-WI, Roger Marshall, R-KS, and Tina Smith, D-MN, and in the House by Reps. Dusty Johnson, R-SD, Jim Costa, D-CA, Michelle Fischbach, R-MN, and Jimmy Panetta, D-CA, the SAVE Act is expected to be incorporated into the 2023 Farm Bill. Members and supporters can make their voice heard by writing to their representatives in Congress through NMPF’s advocacy platform.

NMPF also secured a key victory for U.S. cheese producers and dairy farmers through a March 3 ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which confirmed that “gruyere” is a common name, in opposition to French and Swiss consortiums which hoped to trademark the term in the U.S. market. The NMPF trade policy team, alongside USDEC and CCFN, worked diligently with the legal team to ensure that American gruyere producers can continue to market and sell their products in the United States.

NMPF’s dedication to building dairy exports through expanding market has included fly-ins to DC, use of congressional trade hearings to elevate dairy priorities, meetings with USTR and USDA political appointees on trade, intensive work with U.S. negotiators on using the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework to address nontariff trade barriers, and joint agricultural coalition efforts such as the trade-focused August 21 letter to 2024 Presidential candidates urging a greater commitment to trade agreements.

Efforts also extend to ensuring existing agreements deliver full benefits for U.S. dairy. NMPF commended the U.S. government’s Jan. 31 announcement that it requested a second USMCA panel to hold Canada responsible for violating the agreement’s dairy market access obligations. The announcement resulted from extensive work by NMPF with USTR and USDA last year to ensure that the second USMCA case was well-positioned for success. NMPF and USDEC since January have continued to work closely with USTR and USDA to support their case and ensure that Canada grants U.S. producers and exporters the market access negotiated and promised under USMCA.

To bolster NMPF’s work to preserve and expand market access for dairy products in markets around the world, the organization has also continued to grow its global voice and influence, forming partnerships with leading dairy and agricultural organizations overseas.

As governments around the world embrace protectionist stances and adopt ill-advised policies, NMPF strives to continue to grow its network of allies to support pro-dairy, pro-trade and science-based rules. Strengthening ties in Latin America, NMPF announced on April 20 a new collaboration with the National Agricultural Organizations from Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile, Bolivia and Colombia to represent the dairy and livestock industry in international climate discussions. During a trip to Japan, NMPF formalized a July 6 “Letter of Friendship” with JA-Zenchu, Japan’s Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives, to address the common difficulties that dairy farmers in the two countries are facing. Most recently, NMPF and USDEC signed on July 27 an agreement with the Italian Dairy Association, Assolatte, to promote the nutritional benefits of dairy products and support dairy-friendly policies in international forums.