The letter was sent to Trump roughly one month after the US presidential election, the outcome of which came as surprise to most political watchers, NMPF president and CEO Jim Mulhern said in a blog on the organization’s website.
Prior to the election, the US dairy organizations and companies had expressed concern over Trump’s seemingly inflexible stance on immigration, which could be a challenge for the dairy industry, which relies fairly heavily on immigrant labor.
“Dairy farm employers need the certainty of access to their current workforce, as well as to a future supply of farm workers on a year-round basis,” he added.
The importance of US dairy exports
In the letter, penned by Mulhern and USDEC president Thomas M. Suber, they urged Trump to consider how many American jobs US dairy exports have created.
“USDA estimates that at the farm level each $1bn of US dairy exports generates over 20,000 jobs and almost $3bn of economic output. At the manufacturing level, USDA calculates that US dairy exports support around 3,200 jobs per $1bn of exports and generate nearly $4 in additional economic activity per $1 of exports,” the joint letter stated.
According to the letter, US dairy exports account for 14% of milk production on a total milk solids basis, 20 years ago that number was “essentially zero.”
Non-tariff barrier is ‘a real threat’
Another issue the dairy organizations referred to in the letter was the damage caused by non-tariff barriers to US agricultural exports. The letter cited Canada’s ongoing selective policies when it comes to US dairy imports and Europe’s efforts to include geographical labeling for regional cheese names (e.g. Parmesan and Romano) as a marker of authenticity.
It is policies like these where they hope Trump will step in to help enforce existing trade agreements.
Both organizations agreed that it was pertinent “to preserve current overseas dairy sales while seeking to achieve new gains by removing foreign barriers that hold back additional exports,” Mulhern said.
“We fully agree with you that strong enforcement must be the cornerstone of US trade policy efforts so that the benefits of a trade agreement do not vanish,” the letter stated.