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Dairy Leaders Hit the Hill and USDA for Meetings on NAFTA

May 09, 2017
Michael Dykes, D.V.M., IDFA president and CEO, and other dairy leaders meet with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue (second row, second to right) at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

IDFA last week joined more than 40 dairy company executives and farmers from across the country in meetings on Capitol Hill and with administration officials to stress the importance of preserving U.S. dairy exports to major markets. The group urged the legislators and officials to maintain the industry’s strong trade relationship with Mexico and to address Canada’s protectionist dairy policies during renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The dairy industry fly-in included meetings with Stephen Vaughn, acting U.S. Trade Representative; Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), speaker of the House; and Ray Starling, special assistant to President Donald Trump for agriculture, trade and food assistance. The group also met with leading members of the House and Senate agriculture committees and with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue during his first week in office.

Participating in the three days of meetings from IDFA were Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO; Clay Hough, senior group vice president and general counsel; and Beth Hughes, director of international affairs.

In the meetings, the dairy leaders emphasized that U.S. dairy exports currently support thousands of jobs across the nation and growth opportunities abound. The group urged members of Congress and administration officials to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement in a way that would preserve and strengthen U.S. dairy market access in Mexico and reduce tariffs and nontariff barriers on U.S. exports to Canada. The group also requested new commitments on sanitary and phytosanitary measures when used as trade barriers and geographical indications.

IDFA hosted a dinner for the participants during the fly-in, allowing all members of the group to get to know more about each other and learn how these trade issues affect different types of companies. “By working collaboratively with NMPF and USDEC and their members on these important trade issues, we effectively presented one industry voice on our requests for NAFTA going forward,” Dykes said.

In addition to delivering a strong trade message, Dykes thanked Secretary Perdue for his recent proclamation directing the U.S. Department of Agriculture to include more flavored milk options in school meals, ensuring school-aged children get the nutrition they need.

For more information, contact Hughes at

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