Michael Dykes, D.V.M., IDFA President and CEO
Michael Dykes, D.V.M., IDFA president and CEO, last week discussed the major stakes of dairy’s trade future in the new administration to a sold-out crowd attending the Washington International Trade Association’s “NAFTA 2.0?” event in Washington, D.C. He joined a series of panelists who discussed the global ramifications of President Donald Trump’s plan to revisit the North American Free Trade Agreement and looked at how potential changes could affect critical industries.
Joining an industry-focused panel with leaders from FedEx Express, the Internet Association, Pfizer Inc. and Whirlpool, Dykes outlined NAFTA’s sweeping effects on food and agriculture, along with the dairy industry’s priorities of preserving its strong trade partnerships in Mexico and improving Canadian market access in the future.
Dykes explained that U.S. food and agricultural trade quadrupled to $36 billion under NAFTA and that every week one day’s worth of milk from U.S. dairy farms is exported. Of the current $4.7 billion of these exports, more than 24 percent is exported to Mexico, he said.
Preserve Relationships with Mexico, Ensure Fair Market Access in Canada
Looking ahead to potential NAFTA renegotiation, Dykes said, “Our main objective with Mexico will be to preserve the excellent trade relationships we have with Mexico. In terms of Canada, it’s a different story.”
Dykes said dairy’s main priority in a NAFTA renegotiation with Canada would be to ensure fair market access. Canada is currently considering expanding an existing provincial ingredients pricing strategy to a national strategy, and it would provide an incentive to substitute Canadian dairy ingredients over imports and unfairly subsidize Canadian dairy exports, he added.
“We are concerned that those current pricing schemes on the ingredients pricing strategy will also spill over into not just the domestic Canadian market that forecloses our companies located primarily in New York and Wisconsin at the current time, but will spill over into the global markets as they start subsidizing exports of skim milk powder to the world.
“However the process plays out, we intend to be at the table. We intend to make sure the ag interests, especially the dairy interests, are well represented,” he said.
The panel discussions and follow-up questions were covered by the C-SPAN Network. The broadcast is available on the C-SPAN website.
The Washington International Trade Association (WITA) is a large non-profit, non-partisan organization that provides a forum for the discussion of international trade and economic issues. With a membership of more than 1,800, WITA represents international trade professionals, including business people, diplomats, academics, government employees, attorneys and consultants.
For more information, contact Beth Hughes, IDFA director of international affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.