USDA and FDA today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will establish an interagency process to further support exports of U.S. dairy products. Both agencies play critical roles in facilitating foreign sales of American-made dairy products, which is recognized and appreciated by the U.S. dairy industry, said the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF). This MOU will draw upon the expertise of FDA as well as USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) to deepen and streamline their work together on the issues facing dairy exports to the benefit of U.S. dairy farmers and manufacturers.

USDEC and NMPF worked with both agencies to advance this new approach to dairy export collaboration. The organizations said they deeply appreciate the USDA and FDA’s dedication to drafting this new MOU to facilitate U.S. dairy exports and their ongoing collaboration with the dairy industry. Foreign competitors are making advances in international markets, making efforts to expand overseas opportunities for U.S. dairy critical to the long-term health of U.S. dairy farmers and processors.

“Today’s announcement of an interagency MOU on dairy trade between USDA and FDA is the result of years of conversation and efforts between stakeholders within the U.S. dairy industry and the U.S. government to establish consistent guidance on tackling the rising number of export challenges facing our industry,” said Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of Arlington, Va.-based USDEC. “This MOU will help our industry continue to grow in an increasingly competitive global environment.”

Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of Arlington, Va.-headquartered NMPF, expressed appreciation for all of the hard work from both agencies.

“This new partnership ensures that the staff at USDA and FDA are working together in the most efficient way possible to lower barriers for our farmer’s dairy exports,” he added. “Increasing U.S. dairy exports will strengthen the health of our farmers and rural communities, which is more important than ever as America’s dairy industry faces new and unprecedented challenges.”

The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) also applauded the signing of the MOU, explaining that

it is designed to maximize efficiency in the U.S. government’s support for U.S. dairy export requests from foreign governments by outlining each agency’s primary areas of responsibility for dairy exports. For example, FDA’s responsibilities, as outlined in the MOU, focus on ensuring dairy products are safe and liaising with USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) and foreign governments on relevant food safety questions as necessary.

AMS’s responsibilities focus on providing sanitary certificates and other export-related services to dairy exporters — for example, export verification programs or facilitating the submission of facility questionnaires to foreign governments as needed, IDFA said. FAS’s responsibilities focus on facilitating sanitary certificate negotiations and liaising with foreign governments on matters related to dairy exports. 

“We are excited to share this good news with IDFA’s members across the dairy supply chain,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO of Washington, D.C.-based IDFA. “IDFA has been a tireless advocate for this kind of federal agency efficiency and cooperation, and seeing this collaborative effort come to fruition to support U.S. dairy exports is a tremendous accomplishment and a huge value-add for the dairy industry. IDFA appreciates the efforts of USDA and FDA to finalize this MOU and facilitate our industry’s global growth.”

The MOU is effective immediately and can be reviewed here.