U.S. dairy farmers at their annual meeting asked President Donald Trump to recognize the significant economic losses milk producers are suffering because of the administration’s implementation of Section 232 and 301 tariffs.
The duties have resulted in retaliatory tariffs against U.S. dairy exports, particularly in Mexico and China. They continue to cause severe economic harm to U.S. dairy farmers, according to the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), as its board of directors adopted a resolution calling for aid commensurate to that damage.
“In light of the administration’s decision to establish a program to compensate farmers for the damage caused by these retaliatory tariffs, we call on the president to direct the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide assistance to dairy producers at a level that reflects the damage they have caused,” milk producers resolved at their meeting, held Oct. 28-31 in Phoenix. Farmer losses will exceed $1 billion this year, according to four separate estimates cited by NMPF. An initial USDA mitigation package announced in August allocated $127 million to dairy.
“Dairy farmers spoke strongly and clearly that the government needs to act to alleviate the hardship America’s milk producers face as a result of the trade disputes,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “We look forward to working with USDA and White House on solutions that address the cost of the trade war that has exacerbated the economic struggle facing dairy producers and the cooperatives they own.”
Farmers attending the conference also discussed the state of dairy profitability and the future of dairy cooperatives in a time of consolidation. Guest speakers included American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall, and David Wasserman, House Editor for The Cook Political Report. Mulhern also detailed NMPF’s efforts to fight misleading labeling of plant-food-based beverages as milk, and moderated a panel of dairy executives including Mike Doyle, president and CEO of Foremost Farms; Beth Ford, president and CEO of Land O’Lakes, Inc.; Ed Mullins, CEO of Prairie Farms; and Ed Townley, president and CEO of Agri-Mark.