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.