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Dairy Facts 2016

IDFA Discusses Dairy Priorities with USDA’s Top Trade Official

Feb 21, 2018
(L to R) Beth Hughes, IDFA: Ted McKinney, undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs; Michael Dykes, D.V.M., IDFA; and John Allan, IDFA.

IDFA continues to work with the Trump administration to expand trade opportunities for dairy and seek more market access abroad. Staff members met Friday with Ted McKinney, the first person to hold the new position of undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to discuss the critical trade actions the industry needs for growth.

“Ted McKinney is the administration’s top official charged with advancing U.S. agricultural export interests and is an important ally to our industry,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., IDFA president and CEO, who attended the meeting. Beth Hughes, IDFA director of international affairs, and John Allan, IDFA vice president of regulatory affairs and international standards, also participated in the meeting and shared their subject matter expertise.

Dykes and Hughes outlined the importance of preserving the dairy export market in Mexico and gaining greater market access in Canada through a modernized North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). They specifically asked for the elimination of Canada’s Class 6 and 7 pricing programs to address the dumping of Canadian milk powders on the world market, as well as the elimination of Canadian tariffs, tariff-rate quotas and non-tariff barriers to trade.  

Hughes also asked that the administration continue to curtail efforts by the European Union (EU) to restrict the usage of common cheese and food names using inappropriate geographical indications (GIs). The EU last year concluded free trade agreements with Canada and Japan that include GI restrictions for names such as asiago, feta, fontina and gorgonzola. The EU is now finalizing updates to its bilateral free trade agreement with Mexico.

From a regulatory perspective, Allan expressed interest in collaborating with the U.S. Codex Office, which moved last year from USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service to Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs under McKinney. IDFA supported the realignment of the office, which is responsible for ensuring that U.S. government interests are reflected in the food standards, guidelines and codes of practice developed by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the standard-setting organization run jointly by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization.   

Allan stressed that IDFA and its members support international standards that are founded on science, provide public health benefits and facilitate fair trade of U.S. dairy products around the world.

“I have known and worked extensively with Ted for the better part of 20 years, and was pleased to meet with him again representing IDFA members,” said Dykes. “Our candid discussion on trade issues important to our industry was the first of many we hope to have in the future.”

For more information, contact Hughes at


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