IDFA Convenes Unique Member ‘Fly-out’ in Idaho for Congressional Delegation and Local Dairy Leaders

Roundtable discussion focuses on trade and tariffs

Building on its successful series of strategic fly-ins for members to advocate for dairy on Capitol Hill, the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) yesterday hosted its first “fly-out” in Nampa, Idaho. This unique approach for sharing dairy’s opportunities and priorities with key legislators included a roundtable discussion among three members of Idaho’s congressional delegation and several dairy company executives with processing facilities in the state.

Sens. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, and Jim Risch, R-Idaho, and newly elected Rep. Russ Fulcher, R-Idaho, toured the Sorrento Lactalis, Inc. facility in Nampa and met with executives from Agropur Cooperative, Albertsons Companies, Brewster Cheese Company, Chobani, Inc., Darigold, Inc., Glanbia Nutritionals, Meadow Gold Dairies/Dean Foods Company, Reed’s Dairy, Inc. and Sorrento Lactalis, Inc., as well as IDFA.

“Idaho’s dairy products industry has an overall economic impact of $11.4 billion and supports more than 41,000 jobs that generate $2.5 billion in wages,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., IDFA president and CEO. “We’re very pleased to bring Idaho’s members of Congress together with their dairy company constituents to share the importance of dairy to Idaho’s economy. This unique approach allowed the delegation to see the operations and economic impact firsthand and discuss the policies needed to ensure dairy’s continued growth and success in Idaho.

“Our main priority for members is advocacy, whether it’s on Capitol Hill, in regulatory agencies, within the administration or on the ground in states with a dairy presence,” Dykes continued. “We believe IDFA is uniquely positioned to convene meetings like this to further the relationships that are so critical for providing input on the policy and regulations that make a difference for dairy.”

Trade and Tariffs

The group discussed global trade and its importance to the U.S. dairy industry. The executives emphasized the value of a proactive U.S. trade policy to pursue bilateral agreements with key markets for dairy, such as Japan and others in the Asia-Pacific region. They also stressed that U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada and Mexico continue to have a negative impact on dairy exports because the two countries have imposed hefty retaliatory tariffs. Until these tariffs are lifted, they said, dairy companies will not be able to reap the intended benefits of the recently passed U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

Non-tariff barriers to trade, such as inappropriate geographical indications that attempt to restrict the use of common foods names, also need to be stopped, the executives said. As one example, they cited the successful efforts by the European Union in new trade pacts with other countries to ban the use of common cheese names. The executives urged the delegation to ensure that the United States pushes back against these aggressive attempts to limit the growth of U.S. dairy exports.

In addition to the dairy leaders, four IDFA staff members participated in the roundtable discussion:

  • Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO;
  • Tony Eberhard, vice president of legislative affairs;
  • Beth Hughes, senior director of international affairs; and
  • Colin Newman, manager of legislative affairs and political programs.

IDFA’s next strategic legislative fly-in will take place in early December in Washington, D.C.

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