Last year marked the first time in U.S. history that our dairy farmers produced more than 200 billion pounds of milk. This was the highest year over year increase since 2004-2005 and a 5.7 billion pound increase from the previous year. In recent years, more than two-thirds of the growing demand for U.S. farm milk has been for dairy exports.
To help meet this demand, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Dairy Grading Branch offers many vital services for exporters shipping products from US approved production facilities. One of these services is issuing export health/sanitary certificates, which are required for the import of US dairy products into most countries.
An AMS health/sanitary certificate verifies the health of animals and products and assures the sanitary conditions of the plants or facilities where they were processed. Our certificates help the nation’s dairy producers and manufacturers reach large markets like China, which imported more than $430 million worth of U.S. dairy products in 2012.
In order to get a certificate, exporters and manufacturers submit paperwork to AMS. If approved, they can receive a certificate in just 3-5 business days. We currently issue dairy export certificates for U.S. trade into 104 countries. Last year, more than 26,000 export certificates were issued.
The U.S. dairy industry faced a challenge in 2010 when access to the China market was threatened. Exports to this country were nearly halted when China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) revised their dairy export certification language. The U.S. government could not accept China’s original proposed certification language because of animal disease statements and their food safety requirements.
To avoid losing China as an export market, AMS worked with USDA representatives from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the Foreign Agricultural Service, and representatives from the U.S. Trade Representative’s office, the Food and Drug Administration, and the dairy industry to convince China to postpone market closure until new language was developed. After much work, in December 2012, AQSIQ confirmed acceptance of the new U.S. dairy health certificate for exports to China.
“Our program routinely works with other agencies to negotiate export certification language to resolve international trade barriers like the one we had with China,” said Diane Lewis, director of our Dairy Programs’ Grading and Standards Division. “When a resolution is found, we are responsible for issuing export certificates required by 80 percent of U.S. dairy importing countries. These certificates provide American dairy farmers and dairy product manufacturers access to overseas markets, in turn contributing to domestic milk price levels.”