According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), just over 2,700 dairy farms closed doors in 2018, amounting to a 6.8 percent decrease in total U.S. dairies. In order to keep current farms afloat, increased prices and purchases are a must.
America’s dairy industry has stepped up to the plate to advocate for their commodity by banning together to send U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue a letter on Monday, stressing the need for a trade deal with Japan.
Insight pertaining to the letter was shared by Iowa State Dairy Association (ISDA) Executive Director Mitch Schulte, who partook in the letter signing.
“We know that all trade deals out there are vitally important to our dairy industry, so when we see an opportunity to maybe push one along, we like to make sure our input is heard–especially when our dairy farmers have been going through some rough times. The work and the conversations have been happening ever since we started talking about a Japan deal. But now that we see progress, all of our dairy companies are coming together to say that this is something that is critical for our organization and our industry, so let’s get this passed and let’s get it sent through,” said the Executive Director.
Mitch also covered the trade deal as it will pertain to Iowa. Specifically, the Executive Director says cheese exports will be of particular interest.
“Whenever we’re opening up a new trade market, Iowa does a great job of sending our milk to different companies. Then it gets processed into other products, along with fluid milk, but you see a lot of those cheeses being exported or sent overseas. Japan is the second largest net importer of cheese, so when we can strike a good deal that not only will help us move more product to their country, but will possibly expand the exports that we can send there, we naturally want to see those get passed,” shared Schulte.
Export values, along with potential improvements were demonstrated by the ISDA Executive Director.
“In 2018, the U.S. exported $270 million worth of dairy products to Japan. In this new trade deal, we would hope to see us maintain that market, if not even grow that further,” said Schulte.