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U.S. dairy groups want tariffs suspended

U.S. dairy groups want tariffs suspended

Duties on Mexican imports create ‘uncertainty and concern,’ the industry said

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

The American dairy industry is asking President Trump to suspend tariffs on Mexican products while NAFTA negotiations continue.

More than 60 organizations in the dairy sector signed a letter addressed to the White House today outlining the challenges the U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum is having on the industry.

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), U.S. Dairy Export Council and International Dairy Foods Association are among the groups included in the letter.

In response to those tariffs, Mexico retaliated with 25 percent import taxes of its own on ag goods including pork, apples, potatoes and cheese.

Mexico imported nearly US$400 million worth of U.S. cheese last year. The groups are concerned Mexican buyers will look elsewhere for their products.

The tariffs “will diminish foreign demand for high-quality U.S. dairy products that are produced across the country and support nearly 3 million American jobs,” the letter said.

“Worse yet, our competitors in the European Union will use this opportunity in the wake of their currently concluded Free Trade Agreement with Mexico to gain market share.”

Dairy producers could also experience lower milk prices without a customer of Mexico’s size.

Milk prices are currently around US$15.80 per cwt. But prices could fall further if tariffs continue to impact dairy exports.

“The farm-level milk price outlook for the rest of 2018 have deteriorated significantly in recent weeks, in reaction to the prospects of lost dairy export sales,” Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF, said in the letter.

“No one wants to see lasting damage to our farmers result from lost access to our top foreign market. That’s why resumption of tariff-free trade between the U.S. and Mexico is so critical.”

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