U.S. Dairy Salutes USTR’s Pursuit of Canadian USMCA Compliance

ARLINGTON, VA – The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) commend the U.S. Trade Representative’s announcement today that it is filing a new request for dispute settlement consultations with Canada in order to expand the scope of the second U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) dairy dispute to include additional elements necessary to ensure that Canada fully complies with its USMCA obligations.

The initial USMCA dispute panel, launched by the United States in May 2021, found Canada in violation of USMCA’s tariff-rate quota (TRQ) provisions by reserving most of its preferential dairy TRQs for Canadian processors. In March 2022, Canada released its revised approach to USMCA TRQs, which still violated the USMCA, by providing inequitable advantages to Canadian dairy processors and failing to administer TRQs in a manner to ensure full use of TRQs as intended by USMCA. This prompted USTR to request formal consultations with Canada over the measures, the first step in bringing a second case before a USMCA dispute settlement panel.

Today’s actions are the culmination of months of painstaking work to evaluate the strongest basis for the United States’ case and find the best approach to bring Canada into compliance given its persistent violations.

“We thank USTR and USDA for their diligence in working to ensure that American dairy producers have the market access promised under USMCA. NMPF is committed to doing everything it can to support the case,” stated Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “At the end of the day, if Canada continues to flagrantly flout its obligations, the U.S. government has to be ready with retaliatory measures that make the Canadian government reconsider its actions.”

“It is deeply unfortunate that Canada simply refuses to honor the full terms of our agreement,” said Krysta Harden, president and CEO of USDEC. “USMCA is a fair deal that was thoroughly negotiated and agreed to by the Canadian government. The U.S. dairy community is thankful the administration and Congress have taken Canada’s violations seriously and are fighting for full export benefits that the American dairy industry earned.”


NMPF’s Morris Says USMCA Must Be Protected

NMPF’s vice president for trade, Shawna Morris, talks about the importance of enforcing the dairy provisions of the USMCA trade agreement, including access to Canada’s market and the protection of common cheese names in Mexico, on the Adams on Agriculture podcast.

U.S. Dairy Industry Praises Administration and Congress for Final Passage of USMCA

ARLINGTON, VA – The U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) cheered today’s Senate vote paving the way for the President’s signature of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

Looking ahead, USDEC and NMPF urged U.S. officials to carefully monitor Canada and Mexico’s USMCA commitments once the trade deal takes effect to ensure its provisions are enforced accordingly so that the dairy industry is able to reap the full benefits of the agreement negotiated by Ambassador Lighthizer and the negotiating teams at USTR and USDA.

“USMCA makes important strides to break down trade barriers, opening the door to new opportunities and supporting the flow of high-quality American dairy products to two valuable export markets,” said Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of USDEC. “The strong enforcement measures included in the final agreement give officials the tools necessary to hold our trade partners accountable and ensure the gains secured by USMCA are completely realized. We are grateful to the Administration for the sizable accomplishments secured in USMCA on dairy. With this trade deal complete, negotiators can now turn their attention to other key markets around the world in order to gain further ground for U.S. dairy.”

“America’s dairy farmers are celebrating today’s bipartisan vote as a win. Under President Trump’s leadership, USTR and USDA negotiated an agreement that will deliver a more certain future for our dairy farmers and rural economy,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “The U.S. must now remain diligent and proactively work with Canada and Mexico to implement USMCA in both letter and spirit. Full compliance is essential to achieving more fair trade with Canada and protecting American-made cheeses in Mexico.”

USMCA fundamentally changes Canada’s trade-distorting policies, reforms Canada’s controversial dairy pricing system and provides exclusive Canadian market access for U.S. farmers and manufacturers. According to the International Trade Commission, U.S. dairy exports are projected to increase by more than $314 million a year. USMCA also strengthens the relationship between Mexico and the U.S. and establishes new protections for products that rely on common cheese names, such as parmesan and feta.


Dairy Farmers Count on Congress to Pass USMCA

The push to complete the U.S.–Mexico–Canada agreement (USMCA) received a boost in June when Mexico became the first country to ratify the trade agreement. Still, Washington has yet to take action, making collaboration key as NMPF works with other stakeholders to get the agreement over the finish line.

The U.S. Trade Representative’s Office is working with leading members of Congress to hash out a way forward, specifically focusing on concerns expressed by Democrats to guarantee sufficient Congressional support. Complementing that work, about 50 dairy farmers and dairy-cooperative staff took NMPF’s message in support of USMCA’s passage directly to Capitol Hill in June. Their on-the-ground advocacy was dovetailed with NMPF’s work to educate policymakers on the importance of this trade agreement to the dairy industry.

Also last month, NMPF joined forces with the U.S. Dairy Export Council and the International Dairy Foods Association to write to members of Congress from top dairy-producing states, asking them to “please pursue a USMCA vote without delay” on behalf of the dairy farms and businesses they represent.

“Solidifying and expanding trade opportunities abroad through USMCA will improve the prospects of dairy farms here at home,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “In the midst of uncertainty surrounding our trade relationships and yet another year of meager milk prices, the United States lost an average of seven dairy farms a day in 2018. The passage of USMCA will instill a renewed sense of optimism in our dairy farmers.”

USMCA will help bolster the U.S. dairy industry by locking in existing access to our key export market in Mexico while increasing trade opportunities in Canada and establishing new trade rules to discipline Canada’s trade-distorting dairy policies, discourage unscientific barriers to trade and preserve the rights of common cheese name users. U.S. government estimates calculate that USMCA will increase U.S. dairy exports to Mexico and Canada by $277 million once it is fully implemented.

Tariff Threat Avoided

The importance of committing to solidifying dependable trading conditions with our biggest export market – Mexico – was driven home in early June as President Donald Trump threatened to impose escalating tariffs against all Mexican products in an unrelated dispute over immigration. Numerous groups, including NMPF, swiftly spoke out against the proposal, and late on June 7th the White House announced it would not proceed with the tariffs.

In a statement issued the day after the President threatened to impose tariffs, NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern warned that “New tariffs against Mexico are unlikely to secure the border, but judging from reaction on Capitol Hill, they may very well jeopardize the chances of passing the USMCA, a key White House priority and one that’s crucial for future agricultural prosperity. Re-escalating trade tensions only harms farmers further, just when they were seeing glimmers of hope.” Over the course of the intervening week when the prospect of tariffs loomed, NMPF took the threat of upheaval to this critical market seriously, arming Young Cooperators meeting with dozens of Congressional offices with talking points urging maintenance of open trade with Mexico and joining onto a joint statement with others in the agriculture and business communities.

NMPF estimates that producers have lost at least $2.3 billion in revenues through March due to higher tariffs by Mexico and China against U.S. dairy, which have lowered milk prices for all producers.

Down Go Steel Tariffs, Up Goes USMCA’s Chances

Dairy producers got a dose of much-needed good news in May when North American trading partners reached agreement to end a testy tariff dispute. The trade deal announced May 17 put an end to the Section 232 metal duties that the United States levied against Mexico and Canada last year. In return, Mexico and Canada agreed to end retaliatory tariffs against several U.S. products, including cheese and yogurt. Economists with Informa Agribusiness Consulting had estimated that Mexico’s retaliatory tariffs, left unchecked, would have cost dairy farmers nearly $1.2 billion in lost revenue by the end of 2019.

“Dairy farmers have much to celebrate, with the resumption of normal business with our largest export partner,” Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation, said. Congress’s next step should be “to vote on USMCA and quickly ratify it,” he said.

Dairy quickly capitalized on the USMCA momentum, with NMPF joining with the U.S. Dairy Export Council and the International Dairy Foods Association to inform Congress in a letter sent June 10 endorsing swift USMCA approval. The next day NMPF joined with almost a thousand other food and agricultural organizations and companies, including many NMPF members, to send a unified message to the Hill urging movement on the trade agreement.

USMCA modernizes the North American Free Trade Agreement, maintains U.S. dairy sales into Mexico, expands dairy market access in Canada, and reforms many nontariff barriers to trade. Dairy sales to Mexico and Canada should grow by a total of $277 million once USMCA is fully implemented, according to U.S. government estimates.

Dairy exports to Mexico totaled $1.4 billion last year, or 80 percent of Mexico’s total imports, and are poised for further growth under the open trade conditions that USMCA solidifies. Negotiations of the trade deal were completed in November but requires congressional approval. NMPF and its partners at the U.S. Dairy Export Council have pushed for USMCA ratification through a series of Capitol Hill meetings, briefings, special events, and letters to lawmakers.

Dairy Takes Positive Steps Forward, But Trade Tremors Abound

It would be nice to have time to savor real progress, but that seems such a luxury when turbulence is the new normal.

The long overdue end to Mexico’s retaliatory tariffs against U.S. cheese exports last month was a positive development, one of several indicators suggesting that dairy’s fortunes may be improving. But as has often been the case, even that gain was soon thrown into doubt, suggesting that much work remains before we can feel confident we’ve turned the corner on reestablishing a dependable trading relationship with Mexico.

First, the good news: Removing the tariffs, a barrier that has harmed trade with our largest international partner, is important progress in improving dairy’s fortunes. The end of the Mexican retaliatory tariffs put the U.S. fully back as the preferred supplier to what last year was a $1.4 billion dairy market. The May 17 agreement ending U.S. tariffs against Canadian and Mexican metals that prompted the retaliation in the first place shows that, for all the frustrations farmers have felt in the ongoing trade wars, progress can occur.

The end of the tariffs also improves prospects for passing the USMCA trade treaty. Mexico has revised its labor laws, which should help gain support for the agreement in the U.S. Congress, and Canada is vowing “full steam ahead” for ratification. Meanwhile, producer margins are improving, and a better safety net is arriving with Dairy Margin Coverage Program signup on pace to begin June 17, giving producers several reasons for greater optimism about dairy’s economic fortunes.

But the threat of new tariffs President Trump raised in early June, meant to change Mexico’s behavior on immigration issues that are unrelated to trade or agriculture, raised the specter of renewed retaliation. With the resolution of that threat late last week, we are hoping that USMCA momentum, temporarily slowed, may revive and that we can again focus on repairing and expanding U.S. dairy’s relationship with its largest customer. To help build that groundswell of support in Congress, NMPF sent a joint dairy letter on USMCA, together with USDEC and IDFA, to two dozen of the top dairy state delegations in Congress. A day later NMPF joined with almost a thousand other food and agricultural organizations and companies, including many NMPF members, to send a unified message to the Hill urging movement on the trade agreement.

At the same time, turbulence continues with China. New U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods, the result of derailed negotiations  between the world’s two largest economies (and the third-biggest importer of U.S. milk), are likely to invite further retaliation, compounding the sharp drop in dairy exports we’ve already seen to China.

To ease the blow for producers, the Trump Administration, through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has promised to help producers across agricultural commodities to lessen the near-term economic damage from the trade war with up to $16 billion in a new round of aid.

We at NMPF have been in discussions with the department, suggesting how to target limited resources to best ameliorate the damage.

But we don’t yet know what will be in the assistance package, which means yet more question marks; we’ll keep pushing hard for assistance that mitigates the more than $2.3 billion in damages dairy farmers have faced because of the trade war. But no assistance package can completely capture the full effects of the market uncertainty, interrupted relationships and markets lost to unencumbered competitors who are seizing market share. That’s why we certainly hope the aid package isn’t just as fair as possible – we hope it’s the last one farmers need.

Significant work remains on numerous trade policy fronts to help dairy producers fully recover. In addition to working for USMCA passage, we will continue urging the White House to resolve the renewed tariff spat with China and conclude a bilateral agreement that lowers tensions and improves market access. We also need swift and robust progress in trade discussions with Japan, which the president has promised, so that U.S. dairy interests are not further punished by tariffs and TRQs that each year let our European and Oceania competitors gain ground due to the terms of their trade treaties with Japan.

These steps are necessary to provide certainty, opportunities and improved prices for U.S. dairy producers, something badly needed after the economic turmoil of recent years. If dairy truly is getting back on its feet – and positive signs are emerging – then the next step will be to start moving forward. The end of Mexico’s retaliatory tariffs put us on firmer ground. We can move ahead, despite the tremors that continue to shake things up.





Dairy Farmers – Industry to Congress: Help Us by Passing USMCA

ARLINGTON, VA – The U.S. dairy industry is urging Congress to quickly ratify the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) with an outreach campaign highlighting the importance of the agreement to the success of America’s dairy farmers and manufacturers.

In a letter sent to representatives of top-producing dairy states, the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC), the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) detail how provisions of USMCA positively impact the U.S. dairy industry. The timely resolution of ongoing trade disputes and negotiations is critical to growing the dairy sector’s international market share as well as maintaining credibility with U.S. trading partners. Therefore, the dairy community is asking Congress for immediate passage of this important trade agreement.

The organizations write:

“On behalf of the dairy farms and businesses in your district, please pursue a USMCA vote without delay by working to resolve any outstanding issues as swiftly as possible and then quickly ratify the trade deal to send a clear message to the world that America still values fair trade and robust trade partnerships with our allies.”

“Solidifying and expanding trade opportunities abroad through USMCA will improve the prospects of dairy farms here at home,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “In the midst of uncertainty surrounding our trade relationships and yet another year of meager milk prices, the United States lost an average of seven dairy farms a day in 2018. The passage of USMCA will instill a renewed sense of optimism in our dairy farmers.”

With approximately 16 percent of the U.S. milk supply exported annually, strengthening trading relationships and expanding international market opportunities is vital to the financial well-being of the U.S. dairy industry. USMCA preserves U.S. dairy sales to Mexico, the U.S. dairy industry’s largest foreign customer, while increasing market access in Canada and tackling nontariff barriers that can hinder exports.

“It is time for Congress to swiftly pursue a USMCA vote by working closely with the Administration to resolve outstanding concerns and then quickly ratify this agreement to bring USMCA across the finish line,” said Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of USDEC. “The successful resolution of the Section 232 retaliatory tariffs helped pave the way for this critical trade agreement; while we work together to secure its passage Congress must also stand against the imposition of any additional tariffs that could jeopardize forward progress.”

Michael Dykes, President and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association said, “On behalf of our dairy industry which pumps $620 billion into the U.S. economy each year, we are making a strong appeal to Congress to vote to ratify USMCA now. To pave the way for USMCA ratification, we ask the Administration to restore a market principled approach to trade –transparent, rules-based and predictable for our North American trading partners. The time has come to focus on what’s important to our economy—maintaining American jobs, growing U.S. export markets, and restoring America’s reputation as a reliable supplier.”

Passage of USMCA would bring a much-needed lift to the United States dairy industry with the U.S. International Trade Commission estimating $277 million in increased sales to our North American partners once the agreement is fully implemented.


About NMPF

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), based in Arlington, Va., develops and carries out policies that advance the well-being of U.S. dairy producers and the cooperatives they collectively own. The members of NMPF’s 30 cooperatives produce the majority of the U.S, milk supply, making NMPF the voice of nearly 32,000 dairy producers on Capitol Hill and with government agencies. For more on NMPF’s activities, visit www.nmpf.org.


The U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) is a non-profit, independent membership organization that represents the global trade interests of U.S. dairy producers, proprietary processors and cooperatives, ingredient suppliers and export traders. Its mission is to enhance U.S. global competitiveness and assist the U.S. industry to increase its global dairy ingredient sales and exports of U.S. dairy products. USDEC accomplishes this through programs in market development that build global demand for U.S. dairy products, resolve market access barriers and advance industry trade policy goals. USDEC is supported by staff across the United States and overseas in Mexico, South America, Asia, Middle East and Europe. The U.S. Dairy Export Council prohibits discrimination on the basis of age, disability, national origin, race, color, religion, creed, gender, sexual orientation, political beliefs, marital status, military status, and arrest or conviction record

About IDFA
The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), Washington, D.C., represents the nation’s dairy manufacturing and marketing industry, which supports nearly 3 million jobs, generates more than $39 billion in direct wages and has an overall economic impact of more than $628 billion. IDFA is the umbrella organization for the Milk Industry Foundation (MIF), the National Cheese Institute (NCI) and the International Ice Cream Association (IICA). IDFA’s members range from large multinational organizations to single-plant companies. Together they represent more than 85 percent of the milk, cultured products, cheese, ice cream and frozen desserts produced and marketed in the United States and sold throughout the world. The diverse membership includes numerous food retailers, suppliers and companies that offer infant formula and a wide variety of milk-derived ingredients. Visit IDFA at www.idfa.org.

NMPF Celebrates Lifting of Tariffs Against U.S. Dairy; Hard Work Remains on Trade

ARLINGTON, Va. – The National Milk Producers Federation today celebrated Mexico’s lifting of retaliatory tariffs against U.S. cheese exports. Still, hard work remains for lawmakers and officials to further improve the trade outlook for dairy farmers, with the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement yet to be approved and a prolonged trade dispute with China clouding dairy exports.

“Dairy farmers have much to celebrate, with the resumption of normal business with our largest export partner,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “To move forward in boosting exports, Congress needs to pass the USMCA, and administration officials need to resolve the latest impasse in U.S. negotiations with China in a way that’s favorable to producers. Meanwhile, trade negotiations with Japan and other key partners also must move ahead. The time for progress on all fronts is now.”

Mexico is the largest destination for U.S. dairy products, with Mexico purchasing $1.4 billion last year. Mexico’s retaliatory exports against dairy resulted from the U.S. imposition of tariffs against Mexican metals last year. After the three nations announced the end of the metal tariffs on Friday, the retaliatory tariffs were lifted shortly thereafter. Canada, the second-largest destination, also lifted its retaliatory tariffs against U.S. yogurt.

The USMCA, concluded last fall but still not voted on in Congress, would restore trade certainty with our largest export market and increase access to Canada’s market while making key changes to Canada’s trade-distorting dairy-pricing policies. Meanwhile, trade conflict with China, the third-biggest buyer of U.S. dairy, intensified last week. The escalation of trade tensions has left tariffs on U.S. dairy exporters in place, and China recently increased tariffs on U.S. lactose and infant formula, among other goods, showing continued trade damage to U.S. farmers.

The USDA is currently considering assistance to farmers harmed by trade-related actions. NMPF continues to advocate that the USDA develop a robust dairy package that reflects the damages producers have faced.


The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), based in Arlington, VA, develops and carries out policies that advance dairy producers and the cooperatives they own. NMPF’s member cooperatives produce the majority of U.S. milk, making NMPF the voice of dairy producers on Capitol Hill and with government agencies. For more, visit www.nmpf.org.