Vilsack optimistic about dairy exports in 2020


The USDEC president and CEO says the U.S. dairy industry is in the export business “to stay and to win.”

Vilsack41-9Despite trade policy challenges in China and other markets, U.S. Dairy Export Council President and CEO Tom Vilsack sees many reasons for optimism in 2020 and beyond.

The interim U.S.-Japan trade agreement and anticipated passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement will provide greater access to those important markets, while new initiatives in

Southeast Asia and elsewhere will elevate U.S. Dairy’s presence overseas and build demand.

In an interview with Dairy Foods magazine, Vilsack discusses the initiatives in greater detail. Yet, he acknowledges there are challenges, such as the current trade disagreement between the United States and China and efforts by the European Union to restrict common food names.

USDEC’s efforts to address those challenges are “wide-ranging and aggressive,” Vilsack says.

Vilsack has been delivering his upbeat message in multiple venues, in multiple ways. For example, in a video interview (below) with RFD-TV, Secretary Vilsack examines recent U.S. success at The World Cheese Awards, discusses a major 2020 unveiling in Southeast Asia and points out that U.S. Dairy is in the export business “to stay and to win.”


Video: U.S. Dairy in export business “to stay and to win.” 



Dairy Foods asked the top executives from leading dairy associations to provide their thoughts related to current industry issues and opportunities — and to discuss how their organizations are helping their members succeed.

With permission from Dairy Foods, below is the article’s Q&A with Vilsack.

What are your members most worried about right now, and why?

Vilsack: We are all deeply concerned about the overall state of the global economy tending toward a recession, fueled in part by the trade war with China and uncertainty over the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union. It is imperative that we maintain and improve access to foreign markets.

U.S. suppliers are severely disadvantaged when they face higher tariffs than their EU or New Zealand counterparts in key growth markets like Japan or retaliatory tariffs in markets like China. And they cannot compete when unfair non-tariff barriers restrict access, as they repeatedly threaten to do in countries all over the world.

Schemes like the EU’s geographical indications policy that seeks to monopolize common cheese names or baseless attempts to revise food standards through the Codex Alimentarius Commission are ongoing threats to U.S. export success.

What is your organization doing to help address these member concerns?

Vilsack: USDEC’s efforts are wide-ranging and aggressive. We provide constant input and guidance to the U.S. government during trade negotiations to make sure agreements account for U.S. dairy interests. We form partnerships with international organizations like the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture to promote science-based regulations and policies affecting food and
ag trade.

We proactively engage in Codex standard-setting processes to defend science and advance key dairy standards. We work directly with the U.S. and foreign governments to prevent the imposition of undue regulatory burdens. And we continue to seek out untapped opportunities and expand the U.S. dairy presence in high-potential markets. The list goes on.

Looking ahead to 2020, what do you see as the most significant opportunities for your members (or dairy processors overall), and what will they need to be able to tap into those opportunities?

Vilsack: There are many reasons for optimism in 2020 and beyond. The interim U.S.-Japan trade agreement will improve access for U.S. dairy to a large and growing market. Congressional approval of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement will strengthen the critical trade relationship that the U.S. shares with Mexico while opening new opportunities for U.S. dairy in Canada.

A series of USDEC partnerships and programs will elevate U.S. Dairy’s presence overseas, help build demand and support U.S. supplier export efforts—everything from the opening of USDEC’s first-of-its-kind U.S. Center for Dairy Excellence in Singapore to new Costco partnerships in China and Mexico to the official rollout of the USA Cheese Guild aimed at building a global community of U.S. cheese advocates and users.

Editor’s Note: You can listen to Tom Vilsack’s recent interview on DairyBusiness’ DairyVoice podcast Below:


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