The leaders of three major U.S. dairy organizations Wednesday promised to continue a strong commitment to their time-tested partnership with Mexico’s dairy industry and consumers.
“We have always seen Mexico as a partner first and a customer second,” U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) President and CEO Tom Vilsack told Mexican dairy leaders attending the National Dairy Forum in Mexico City. “That’s why we intend to continue working with you and your industry to expand the consumption of dairy products in a way that benefits both countries.”
“Mexico is our friend, ally and most important trading partner,” said Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation. “Our goal this week in visiting Mexico is to communicate our steadfast commitment to our partnership with the Mexican industry, even as we continue to explore ways to deepen that relationship by working on issues of mutual benefit.”
“The United States proudly provides the majority of imported dairy products to Mexican consumers,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., President and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association, which represents dairy food companies and their suppliers. “We strongly believe that it’s in the best interest of both countries to preserve and enhance our excellent trade relationship, now and in the future.”
Vilsack and Mulhern spoke at the Femeleche conference here, which brought together Mexican dairy industry leaders, farmers and government officials. As part of the coordinated message of collaboration and partnership with Mexico, the three CEOs of the leading U.S. dairy policy organizations are also meeting with a variety of government officials, including the Mexican Minister of Agriculture and the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico.
The reassurance from U.S. dairy leaders comes during a time of political uncertainty on both sides of the border.
Since NAFTA became law in 1994, U.S. dairy exports to Mexico have more than quadrupled to $1.2 billion. That makes Mexico the U.S. dairy industry’s No. 1 export market, accounting for nearly one-fourth of all U.S. dairy exports last year.
Put another way, exports to Mexico require the milk of 345,000 American cows. They create approximately 30,000 U.S. jobs, according to USDA, and $3.6 billion in U.S. economic impact.