Trade policy expert Shawna Morris says long-range goals of expanded exports will be essential to securing prosperity for the U.S. dairy industry.
The outbreak of COVID-19 in China was an international trade concern before it became a major domestic issue in the U.S.
“The global response to coronavirus has had some hopeful aspects—the importance of agriculture to the world’s economy is in the spotlight, and governments have responded to pressing needs by prioritizing preservation of trade flows and in some cases taking a bit more practical approach to some bureaucratic regulations,” Morris said in a NMPF podcast.
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Despite the disruptions, trade officials need to keep long-range goals of expanded exports in mind that will be essential to returning dairy to prosperity, she said.
“We’re working with our government and others to outline the dairy industry’s priorities for upcoming trade agreements, notably with the UK and Kenya for instance, as well as ongoing work—issues and policy barriers that had existed prior to COVID-19 and are still in place that we’re working with our government allies and with other counterparts in other countries to try to help address,” she said.
A possible bright spot is that much of what the United States ships to China is whey and lactose, and China will need whey for animal feed as it continues to rebuild its swine herd following last year’s outbreak of African Swine Fever.
“Frankly, we hope that the U.S.-China phase one agreement helps to spur further (purchases from the U.S.) this year in line with the commitments China has made in that agreement as the recovery proceeds.
“But looking elsewhere, I think the real lesson to be learned here is that recovery will not happen overnight,” Morris said. “It’s going to take time.”