Exporting U.S. dairy is about to get a little easier, thanks to a new memorandum of understanding between United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and FDA designed to enhance collaboration between the agencies and improve efficiency in dairy exports, which bring in $6 billion annually to the U.S.
FDA provides regulatory oversight of programs that cover U.S. dairy facilities, ensuring the safety of milk and milk products, while USDA, through its dairy grading service, is the lead agency on issuing dairy sanitary certificates, coordinating interagency collaboration related to U.S. exports of milk and milk products, and negotiating with foreign countries on certifications to meet their importing requirements.
“The rising trend by trading partners requesting additional information and assurances from dairy exporters requires an exceptional level of coordination by government authorities to address and facilitate requests,” says Frank Yiannas, FDA’s deputy commissioner for food policy and response.
Shawna Morris, vice president of trade policy for the U.S. Dairy Export Council and the National Milk Producers Federatio, sees the MOU as an improvement in terms of how different parts of the government will operate together to resolve trade barrier problems. “Our industry deals with a host of different non-tariff trade issues that crop up each year, but there’s always some sort of hiccup that requires government-to-government discussions to sort through and resolve,” she says.
Matt Herrick, senior vice president of executive and strategic communications for the International Dairy Foods Association, says that, thanks to this streamlined process and clear roles for the agencies involved, U.S. dairy exports should now be well positioned to take advantage of new and changing regulations in foreign markets.
“Demand for U.S. dairy around the world continues to grow unabated, and the U.S. certainly has the quality, safety, and affordability to compete with any other exporting nation, but now U.S. agencies are well-positioned to support that demand,” he adds. “By creating a framework for interagency collaboration and operational efficiency, the U.S. government is showing its commitment to ensuring U.S. dairy is able to respond effectively to new foreign requirements, like certificates, audits, or facility lists.”
This, in turn, should address any challenges faced by U.S. dairy exporters and keep them competitive in the global marketplace, helping to facilitate trade and expand exports of U.S. dairy products in the years to come.