The Importance of Trade for U.S. Dairy

The U.S. dairy industry, which supports more than 3.2 million jobs in the United States and pumps $794 billion into the U.S. economy, relies on trade agreements to open new markets and increase exports. After being a net importer of dairy products a decade ago, the United States exported a record-breaking $9.5 billion in dairy products in 2022 to 141 countries.  U.S. dairy exports have more than quadrupled since the early 2000s, and today, approximately one day’s worth of milk produced each week is exported, or a little over 18% of all production. As U.S. milk production is expected to continue increasing over the next decade while other dairy-producing competitors see decreasing production, new trade agreements will become even more vital to ensure the global competitiveness of the U.S. industry and to boost the American economy.

Our Position

IDFA advocates for the protection of existing trade agreements and the development of new, tariff-reducing trade agreements in order to ensure U.S. dairy products are globally competitive. IDFA recognizes the U.S. dairy industry’s needs for equitable and transparent agreements that provide certainty, create preferential access, open markets and eliminate barriers. IDFA advocates for these things by collaborating with the Administration to ensure their consideration of U.S. dairy priorities in all trade negotiations, by providing innovative feedback on dairy trade policy priorities, and by ensuring both the Administration and Congress understand the importance of these agreements to U.S. dairy and the American economy.

Trade could not be a higher priority for our industry, and now more than ever, the United States is poised to be one of the world’s largest suppliers of sustainable dairy products – if we can have policies that support the products getting exported.  IDFA’s work with policymakers is leading the way into that future, and we could not be more excited about seeing that future materialize.


IDFA’s Trade Policy Priorities

Whether short, medium, or long-term, IDFA works regularly with members to develop a pro-active, strategic approach to U.S. dairy trade policy priorities.  Such an approach requires both ensuring priority trading partners’ barriers are addressed, but also constantly evaluating the global policy landscape with a view of ensuring U.S. dairy trade has a clear pathway to not only remain competitive but to grow. 

A snapshot of IDFA’s short-, and medium-term market-specific trade priorities are:

Just as IDFA members require a rules-based and fair flow of goods with trading partners, they also require U.S. policies and a global environment spanning across all markets that are forward-looking, strategic, and that open new opportunities for U.S. dairy.  A few of IDFA’s long-term trade policy priorities are:

Trade Resources

For information about existing free trade agreements, please visit:

For more information on other recent trade agreements, please visit:

For the latest trade analysis and articles published by IDFA, please visit our newsroom:

For any other trade-related questions or to become a member of the IDFA International Trade Committee, contact Becky Rasdall, IDFA Vice President of Trade Policy and International Affairs at

Staff Contact

Becky Rasdall

Senior Vice President, Trade and Workforce Policy