Dairy Industry To Trump: Suspend Tariffs on Mexican Products

Cheese exports to Mexico are under severe threat if tariffs take hold July 6. ( freeimages.com )

In perhaps an unprecedented letter to President Donald Trump, the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC), the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and more than 60 dairy associations and cheese makers have asked President Donald Trump to suspend tariffs on Mexican products.

The groups and companies are urging the President to negotiate and work collaboratively with Mexico to complete a new, modernized North American Free Trade Agreement.

In their letter, these groups and companies say: “Unlike Canada, Mexico has long been a model for open dairy trade with the United States. Through investment and cooperation with Mexico, we have succeeded in becoming the country’s biggest foreign dairy supplier, with cheese purchases last year alone totaling nearly $400 million. Today, Mexico accounts for approximately one quarter of foreign demand for Made-in-America dairy products and is our most reliable trading partner….

“Worse yet, our competitors in the European Union will use this opportunity in the wake of their recently concluded Free Trade Agreement with Mexico to gain market share. Allowing Mexico’s cheese tariffs to remain in place will greatly assist the EU in a market where the U.S. has long been the leading supplier.”

Mexican tariffs on fresh American cheese and some other products will rise to 25% on July 6, and tariffs on hard, semi-hard, grated, shredded and powdered cheese will rise to 20%.

“Our first four months of 2018 showed a strong expansion in the volume of U.S. dairy exports into Mexico,” says Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of USDEC. “But these tariffs have introduced uncertainty and concern. A renegotiated NAFTA 2.0 would go a long way toward restoring our industry’s momentum.”

“Maintaining dairy market access in Mexico is IDFA’s number one priority in the NAFTA modernization efforts, specifically because the duty-free access has allowed trade between our countries to flourish and Mexico to become our number 1 export market,” says Michael Dykes, president and CEO of IDFA. “We’re confident that the administration and U.S. negotiators will find a way to preserve this vital partnership, which allows the U.S. dairy industry to create more jobs and drive our economy.”

“After rising during the spring, dairy futures markets and the farm-level milk price outlook for the rest of 2018 have deteriorated significantly in recent weeks, in reaction to the prospects of lost dairy export sales,” says Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “No one wants to see lasting damage to our farmers result from lost access to our top foreign market. That’s why resumption of tariff-free trade between the U.S. and Mexico is so critical.”

Along with NMPF, USDA and IDFA, the following dairy groups and companies have also signed the letter to President Trump:

Agri-Mark Inc., Andover, Massachusetts

American Dairy Products Institute (ADPI), Elmhurst, Illinois

Associated Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI), New Ulm, Minnesota

Baker Cheese Factory, Inc., St. Cloud, Wisconsin

BelGioioso Cheese, Inc., Green Bay, Wisconsin

Bluegrass Dairy and Food, Inc., Glasgow, Kentucky

Bongards Creameries, Bongards, Minnesota

California Dairies, Inc., Visalia, California

Cayuga Milk Ingredients, Auburn, New York

Commercial Creamery Co., Spokane, Washington

DairyAmerica Inc., Fresno, California

Dairy Farmers of America, Inc., Kansas City, Kansas

Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery, Ellsworth, Wisconsin

FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative, Madison, Wisconsin

First District Association, Litchfield, Minnesota

Foremost Farms USA Cooperative, Baraboo, Wisconsin

Georgia Milk Producers, Inc., Watkinsville, Georgia

Glanbia Nutritionals, Chicago, Illinois

Great Lakes Cheese Co, Inc., Hiram, Ohio

Hilmar Cheese, Inc., Hilmar, California

Hoogwegt U.S., Inc., Lake Forest, Illinois

Idaho Dairymen’s Association, Twin Falls, Idaho

Idaho Milk Products, Jerome, Idaho

Illinois Milk Producers’ Association, Bloomington, Illinois

Indiana Dairy Producers, Francesville, Indiana

International Ingredient Corporation, Fenton, Missouri

Iowa State Dairy Association, Ankeny, Iowa

Klondike Cheese Co., Monroe, Wisconsin

Lactalis American Group, Buffalo, New York

Land O’Lakes Inc., Arden Hills, Minnesota

Leprino Foods, Denver, Colorado

Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers, Reston, Virginia

MCT Dairies, Inc., Millburn, New Jersey

Michigan Milk Producers Association, Novi, Michigan

Midwest Dairy Coalition, Alexandria, Virginia

Milk Producers Council, Ontario, California

Minnesota Milk Producers Association, Buffalo, Minnesota

Missouri Dairy Association, Chesterfield, Missouri

National All-Jersey Inc., Reynoldsburg, Ohio

Nebraska State Dairy Association, Lincoln, Nebraska

 North Carolina Dairy Producers Association, Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina

Northwest Dairy Association/Darigold, Inc., Seattle, Washington

Ohio Dairy Producers Association, Columbus, Ohio

Oregon Dairy Farmers Association, Salem, Oregon

O-AT-KA Milk Products Cooperative, Inc., Batavia, New York

Pacific Cheese Co., Inc., Hayward, California Prairie Farms Dairy, Edwardsville, Illinois

Sargento Foods Inc., Plymouth, Wisconsin

Sartori Company, Plymouth, Wisconsin

Savencia Cheese USA, LLC, New Holland, Pennsylvania

Select Milk Producers, Inc., Artesia, New Mexico

Schreiber Foods, Inc., Green Bay, Wisconsin

Schuman Cheese, Fairfield, New Jersey

South Dakota Dairy Producers Association (SDDP), Madison, South Dakota

South East Dairy Farmers Association, Reston, Virginia

St. Albans Cooperative Creamery, Inc., St. Albans, Vermont

Swiss Valley Farms, Davenport, Iowa

T.C. Jacoby & Company, Inc., St. Louis, Missouri

Tillamook County Creamery Association, Tillamook, Oregon

Trugman-Nash, Inc., New York, New York

United Dairymen of Arizona, Tempe, Arizona

Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Inc., Buffalo, New York

Valley Queen Cheese Factory, Inc., Milbank, South Dakota

Virginia State Dairymen's Association, Bridgewater, Virginia

Western United Dairymen, Modesto, California