Tag Archives: Milk

The U.S. dairy industry pushed President Donald Trump’s administration on Thursday to ensure increased access to the Japanese market, saying the United States lags behind other farming nations that have tariff-cutting agreements with Japan.

In a hearing on bilateral trade negotiations that Washington and Tokyo are set to start as early as in mid-January, a labor union representing American automobile manufacturing employees meanwhile urged the administration to maintain U.S. tariffs on Japanese cars, parts and trucks to curb increases in imports.

Speaking at the United States International Trade Commission hearing, Jaime Castaneda, senior vice president of trade policy at the U.S. Dairy Export Council and the National Milk Producers Federation, said upcoming talks for a bilateral trade agreement should achieve “a high level of market access” in Japan.

Castaneda said that in terms of access to the world’s third-largest economy, the United States is behind Australia — which already has a bilateral free trade agreement with Japan — as well as the 11 members of a Pacific FTA and the European Union, a 28-nation bloc that has signed an FTA with Japan.

“America is already behind and we ask the administration to act soon,” he said.

In a written testimony, the council and federation effectively pushed Japan to reduce tariffs on dairy products beyond levels agreed to under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, the 11-nation FTA that will enter into force on Dec. 30, and the Japan-EU FTA.

The organizations urged the administration to use the trade talks with Japan to secure “a better outcome” than that contained in the CPTPP or in the Japan-EU FTA “for each tariff line.”

Japan and the European Union are speeding up domestic procedures for the early enforcement of their FTA.

“Japan’s market for imported dairy products is tightly restricted in most product areas,” the testimony said. “In addition to tariffs, Japan maintains a complex quota system for several of its dairy products which it uses to allocate its in-quota quantities according to designated uses.”

Josh Nassar, legislative director for the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America International Union — also known as the United Automobile Workers, or UAW — accused Japan of having a “closed market” for American automobiles.

The United States should maintain tariffs on Japanese cars, parts and trucks “until their market is truly open to actually see big increases in allowing imports,” he said.

While acknowledging Japan imposes no tariffs on foreign cars, Nassar argued the Japanese government has set up “a web of closed systems” such as dealerships that make it difficult for foreign automakers to have successful sales in Japan.

Nassar also claimed Japan has not been hesitant about manipulating its currency to give its exports an unfair trade advantage.

Aside from Thursday’s hearing, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative is scheduled to hold a separate hearing for industries on Monday regarding bilateral trade agreement talks with Japan.

ARLINGTON, Va. – The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) thanked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its announcement today that it will extend by 60 days, until Jan. 25, the public comment period during which the agency is seeking information on the proper names for plant-based beverages. The original deadline was Nov. 27.

“It is crucial that all interested parties have adequate time to more fully address FDA’s extensive list of questions about the labeling issue, and why it matters from a nutrition and public health standpoint,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF, which has long urged FDA to enforce existing rules on what should and shouldn’t properly be called “milk.” “This extension will allow the dairy community, as well as health professionals, to fully explain why consumers deserve accurate and honest information about their food options.”

A survey conducted by the research firm IPSOS, commissioned by Dairy Management Inc., found that misperceptions were common regarding the nutritional value of true milk versus imitators that are industrially produced by mixing water with small amounts of a plant-based product – along with various whiteners, stabilizers, emulsifiers and other chemical ingredients. For example:

  • 73 percent of consumers believed that almond-based drinks had as much or more protein per serving than milk, even though milk has eight times as much protein.
  • 53 percent said they believed that plant-based food manufacturers labeled their products “milk” because their nutritional value is similar, which is incorrect.

Even research funded by plant-drink processors shows confusion. According to a study from the International Food Information Council Foundation, one-quarter of consumers of coconut, soy and almond beverages either thought that or weren’t sure whether those drinks contained milk.

NMPF has prepared a brief video presentation that explains how to submit comments to FDA.

Dairy farms with more than 1,000 cows now comprise nearly 50 percent of the dairy industry, up from only 29 percent the decade prior, showing consolidation of dairy operations has increased significantly. These larger dairy operations have taken advantage of economies of scale to survive the price cycles the dairy industry has come to know. Now, the dominance of these larger dairies has led to a structural shift, which may mute the price cycles in the years ahead and lead to longer periods of lower prices, according to a new report from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange Division.

Since the mid-1990s, the dairy industry has operated in fairly predictable three-year price cycles. Dairy producers generally expanded their operations after a profitable year during this cycle, while some struggling operations were sold or merged during the low points in the cycle. Beginning in 2015, a prolonged period of low milk prices has strained most small-scale dairy farms without the relief of the expected peak year of price recovery.

“The new reality is a milk supply that is less responsive to short-term price shocks since that supply is coming mostly from large operations that can withstand lower prices,” said Ben Laine, senior dairy economist with CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange Division. “Smaller dairy operations are finding it nearly impossible to compete in the commodity milk market against their larger counterparts, so they are forced to either leave the business or find a higher value niche market for their milk.”

The consolidation effect is self-perpetuating, according to Laine. As consolidation happens, larger dairies are best positioned to keep producing milk, despite lower prices, which keeps prices low and puts pressure on the smaller dairies.

This new reality in the industry comes with some new risks, according to Laine. “The largest risk with a densely concentrated milk supply is disease or natural disaster,” said Laine. “A disease outbreak or natural disaster could quickly impact a much larger share of dairy production when it is concentrated in fewer farms.”

Likewise, the new structure of the dairy industry is not completely negative for smaller dairies. While large operations can produce a lot of milk for lower costs, smaller dairies can adapt much more quickly, said Laine.

“Smaller dairies can position themselves to adapt to new market realities,” said Laine. “They tend to be much closer to consumers and can more quickly respond to market opportunities like organic, grass-fed, local and other options marketed as premium dairy products.”