Dairy groups applaud USMCA announcement

Dairy leaders are applauding the USMCA agreement reached by House Democrats and the Trump administration.  Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association Executive Director John Umhoefer says, “We’ve had a tough several years in the dairy industry, especially on the farm side, and this will really help with moving trade forward.”

Umhoefer tells Brownfield they have members who have seen export sales go down. “Opportunites have shrunk there during some of the trade negotiations and the trade tariffs that we had in place, and now we’re poised, I think, to grow. In fact, we are seeing growth in Mexico and I think there’s really a great possibility there for specialty cheese.”

Umhaefer says farmers and cheese plants have been challenged for several years with a runup in milk supplies dampening the milk price, bad weather, labor issues, and tariffs, and the USMCA will help.

Julie Sweney from FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative agrees but is concerned about reports that the Senate will wait until next year to vote on USMCA. “It’s actually pretty concerning to have it go into next year knowing that the political environment will change and everyone will have various other distractions in that political atmosphere to distract them away from getting this passed.”

Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative President Brody Stapel says farmers have been waiting in uncertainty for more than a year for USMCA to get done so it’s certainly good news, but he says there are more steps to be taken, and they are not breathing a full sigh of relief.

U.S. Dairy Export Council President and CEO Tom Vilsack praised the trade announcement saying Washington has worked hard to make USMCA an even better deal for America’s dairy farmers and exporters, establishes new protections for common cheese names, and creates an enhanced Dispute Settlement process for enforcing the agreement’s measures.

There are reports the House will vote on USMCA before the Christmas break.

Wisconsin Cheese Makers Executive Director John Umhoefer discusses the USMCA announcement
Julie Sweney from FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative on the USMCA announcement

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