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The World Needs Our Milk on World Milk Day

By Krysta Harden

As we approach World Milk Day (June 1) and National Dairy Month (June), what can we say about the current and future state of U.S. dairy exports?

The consensus outlook from the experts on exports at the U.S. Dairy Export Council is steadfast confidence for the long haul and cautious optimism for the rest of 2023.

At our Spring USDEC Membership meeting, Tom Halverson, president and CEO of CoBank, a private provider of credit to rural America, shared long-term global population projections that bode well for exports. By 2050, the world will have two billion more mouths to feed. The big population increases will come from India, Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

“Most of those places don’t have the capacity to feed their own populations today, let alone the two billion more people that we are going to have,” Halverson told our members. He called it “a tremendous opportunity” for countries like the U.S. to export food.

Positioned for future success

The U.S. is best positioned to grow milk production. Our big global competitors – the EU and New Zealand – will struggle to meet long-range global demand.

Here in the U.S., we have an abundant, nutritious and sustainable milk supply. Moreover, our dairy farmers and processors have the technology and knowledge to ramp up production.

Remember when exports were an afterthought? Today exports are the key to dairy expansion, outpacing domestic consumption growth in five of the last six years. Long-range export growth gives the children and grandchildren in dairy farm families motivation to continue the family business.

USDEC members have turned global challenges into export opportunities.

From crisis to opportunity

USDEC members have turned global challenges into export opportunities. They overcame COVID and a global supply-chain crisis to achieve back-to-back-to-back years of record-setting U.S. dairy exports.

The impact goes beyond the farm. Dairy has an economic ripple effect that supports more than 3 million American jobs, many in rural communities.

The benefits go beyond our borders. I see dairy exports as a moral mandate to address global food insecurity.

Facing 2023 headwinds

Looking to the rest of this year, a panel of economists at our membership meeting cited headwinds that include a weaker price environment, uncertain Chinese demand and significant questions about the global economy.

Unfortunately, free-trade agreements tilt the playing field toward our competitors. For example, New Zealand is China’s largest dairy supplier, taking advantage of 0% tariffs on many products, including milk powders.

We might not shatter export records as we have for three consecutive years. Still, we remain cautiously optimistic for another year of growth.

What we do for you at USDEC

We help to make exports happen by laying the groundwork and opening the doors for our industry.

We see USDEC as a “success accelerator” for our members, our farmers and the world. Our mission is to “enrich the well-being of people, communities and the planet.”

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