Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO of IDFA, this week joined leaders of food and agriculture associations to brief House Agriculture Committee members and staff of Senate Agriculture Committee members on concerns regarding the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and its possible impact on food and agriculture.
The House Agriculture Committee briefing was hosted by Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway (TX-11) and Ranking Member Collin Peterson (MN-7) with more than 20 committee members participating. The Senate briefing was attended by the staff of more than half of the committee members.
In both briefings, Dykes said that IDFA members fully support the administration’s efforts to modernize NAFTA, but the threat of withdrawing from the agreement is creating uncertainty across the industry.
“Withdrawal from NAFTA would be devastating to the dairy industry,” Dykes said. The position was echoed by other food industry representatives.
During his remarks, Dykes told committee members that maintaining the U.S. dairy industry’s export market in Mexico is the number one priority for IDFA in the renegotiation. He said IDFA is also pushing for the negotiators to address problems with Canada’s use of new milk pricing policies that undercut skim milk powder prices on the international market.
He also emphasized the need for a proactive trade agenda, and commended Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue for understanding the necessity of pursuing trade deals and growing the global market for U.S. agriculture.
In a press event following the House briefing, Dykes outlined many of the efforts IDFA has made to advocate for dairy’s needs in the agreement, including meeting with Ambassador Lighthizer and White House trade staff, sending letters to President Donald Trump and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, hosting discussions with dairy counterparts in Mexico and Canada and submitting testimony to both House and Senate agriculture committees. In addition, Dykes has attended all four NAFTA negotiating rounds, where he participated in briefings and consulted with U.S. congressional staff, U.S. negotiators and other global dairy industry leaders.
“We are making our voices heard to the negotiators,” said Dykes.
(L-R): Nick Giordano, vice president and counsel of global government affairs, National Pork Producers Council; Shawna Morris, vice president of trade policy at the National Milk Producers Federation; Tom Sleight, president and CEO of the U.S. Grains Council; Rep. Conaway; Rep. Peterson; Dykes; Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.
For more information, contact Dave Carlin, IDFA senior vice president of legislative affairs and economic policy, at firstname.lastname@example.org.