On Dec. 10, U.S. dairy organizations commended the White House and Congress for reaching a deal on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC), both based in Arlington, Va., urged lawmakers to vote swiftly on legislation implementing the trade pact.

“Passing USMCA would be boon to America’s dairy farmers,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “USMCA will expand trade opportunities with our most valuable partners and secure immediate benefits for our rural communities, adding an estimated $548 million to dairy-farm revenues in its first six years after implementation.

“Newly announced improvements to USMCA will also ensure that if our trading partners flout their dairy obligations under the trade deal, the U.S. has the tools it needs to vigorously enforce our rights,” he added. "An already good deal for U.S. dairy farmers is even better now, thanks to these changes.

“Our membership would specifically like to thank Ambassador Robert Lighthizer, who provided enormous leadership working with members of Congress to address their concerns, as well as the work of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and other members of Congress who worked hard to find solutions that addressed concerns over the agreement,” Mulhern said.

Now it’s up to Congress to quickly finalize USMCA and secure its benefits for America’s dairy industry this year, NMPF and USDEC said.

“Washington has worked hard to make USMCA an even better deal for America’s dairy farmers and exporters; now we are counting on Congress to move expeditiously to pass USMCA and usher in its significant improvements to trade rules,” said Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of USDEC. “Finalizing USMCA will bolster international confidence in the U.S. as a serious negotiating partner and build momentum for other trade agreements in key markets abroad. Without this crucial trade agreement, Made-in-America dairy and agriculture products could be left behind in the new year.”

Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), also issued a statement on USMCA’s progress.

“What a great day for U.S. dairy and all of American agriculture. With a smooth path ahead for the USMCA agreement, America’s dairy industry anticipates a bright future and continued growth through exports to Canada and Mexico,” he said. “Once ratified, the new USMCA deal also delivers peace of mind for our businesses, removing the handcuffs of uncertainty that have constrained business decisions over the past two years as the deal was negotiated.

“Make no mistake about it, for the U.S. dairy industry — farmers, processors, and suppliers — the USMCA deal is a major win that levels the playing field with our largest trading partners,” he added. “It preserves hundreds-of-thousands of jobs in U.S. food and agriculture directly attributed to trade with Canada and Mexico. It removes several overly protective policies that had hampered U.S. agricultural exports. And it will raise U.S. GDP by $68.2 billion and pump an additional $2.2 billion, or 1.1%, into the U.S. economy through increases in agricultural and food exports.

“Many people made this day possible,” Dykes continued. “Foremost are the members of the International Dairy Foods Association — more than 450 businesses throughout the dairy value chain from dairy cooperatives to processors and retailers who understand the importance of exports and trade to the more than 3 million Americans who rely on dairy for jobs and income. Our IDFA members participated in dozens of meetings and events to show their support for passage of USCMA. On many occasions, we spoke directly to members of Congress and officials in the Trump administration about how crucial this agreement is to the future of American dairy. We also worked as part of a persistent coalition of more than 1,000 food and agricultural businesses and organizations that united to raise our voices in support of USMCA.”

A video message from Michael Dykes can be found at https://youtu.be/5Rgpd58zLsE.