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Dairy Facts 2016

USDA Announces Changes to Dairy Import Licensing Program

Jul 29, 2015

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on Monday that it will be changing the Dairy Tariff-Rate Import Quota Licensing Program, effective September 1. Among the program changes outlined in the final rule, USDA will suspend the historical license reduction provision, currently set to expire in the beginning of 2016, for an additional seven years. This change will allow license holders to adjust to changing market conditions affecting the dairy sector.

USDA will also modify procedures for collecting licensing fees to better align fee collection to the costs of administering the program. In addition, USDA will increase the efficiency of program operations by requiring the use of electronic communications for applications, reporting and payment.

The licensing program covers nearly all dairy products, including dried skim or whole milk, cheese and butter.

USDA uses import licensing to administer the tariff-rate quota (TRQ) system for U.S. imports of dairy products. Under these TRQs, a low tariff rate, called the low-tier rate, applies to imports up to a specified quantity. A higher tariff rate, called the high-tier rate, applies to any imports over that amount.

For dairy products subject to TRQs, a license from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service is generally required to import items at the low-tier tariff rate. Individuals must apply annually for a license between Sept. 1 and Oct. 15. No license is required to import products at the over-quota tariff rate.

Visit to learn more about the Dairy Import Licensing Program.

Members with questions may contact Beth Hughes, IDFA director of international affairs, at

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