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US Dairy Organization Leaders Reiterate Commitment To Partnership With Mexico

The leaders of three major US dairy industry organizations promised Wednesday to continue a strong commitment to their time-tested partnership with Mexico’s dairy industry and consumers.

“We have always seen Mexico as a partner first and a customer second,” Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of the USDEC, told Mexican leaders attending the National Dairy Forum in Mexico City.

“That’s why we intend to continue working with you and your industry to expand the consumption of dairy products in a way that benefits both countries,” added Vilsack, the former US secretary of agriculture who took over the top post at USDEC last month.

“Mexico is our friend, ally and most important trading partner,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation. “Our goal this week in visiting Mexico is to communicate our steadfast commitment to our partnership with the Mexican industry, even as we continue to explore ways to deepen that relationship by working on issues of mutual benefit.”

“The United States proudly provides the majority of imported dairy products to Mexican consumers,” noted Michael Dykes, president and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association. “We strongly believe that it’s in the best interest of both countries to preserve and enhance our excellent trade relationship, now and in the future.”

Vilsack and Mulhern spoke at the Femeleche conference in Mexico City, which brought together Mexican dairy industry leaders, farmers and government officials. As part of the coordinated message of collaboration and partnership with Mexico, the three CEOs of the US dairy groups are also meeting with a variety of government officials, including the Mexican minister of agriculture and the US ambassador to Mexico.

The reassurance from US dairy leaders comes during a time of political uncertainty on both sides of the border, the groups noted.

Since NAFTA began being implemented in the mid-1990s, US dairy exports to Mexico have grown from less than $200 million in value to a record $1.64 billion in 2014. Last year, US dairy exports were valued at $1.22 billion; that was the sixth consecutive year in which US dairy exports to Mexico topped $1 billion in value.

On a volume basis, Mexico is the leading US export market for cheese, nonfat dry milk, and ice cream.

In other agricultural trade-related developments, executive staff leaders from 11 US agricultural and agribusiness organizations commended the Trump administration for engaging in a substantive and productive meeting Wednesday focused on the importance of continued growth of food and agriculture