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Despite trade headwinds, U.S. dairy producers are seeing real export gains that are crucial for supporting milk prices now and in years to come, said Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council, in this week’s Dairy Defined Podcast.

Vilsack, a former Iowa governor and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, discussed how U.S. dairy is establishing itself as a permanent presence in global markets, underscoring the increasingly important role dairy exports play as a driver of U.S. milk prices. By expanding export efforts, American dairy producers can take advantage of rising global demand, boosting income at family farms across the country, he said.

“There are 37,000, 38,000 families who have been struggling for the last couple years in a very tough market situation. I don’t forget that. I don’t forget them,” Vilsack said. “I know that our work not only helps those folks, but also helps nearly 100,000 people that are working in processing facilities that are exporting products. So there are a lot of jobs, and a lot of people, and a lot of livelihoods that depend on what we do, and these are really good, hard-working people.”

Vilsack also discusses dairy’s commitment to climate-change solutions; the challenges of plant-based products that mislead consumers on nutrition by inappropriately using dairy terms; and how dairy has managed through trade restrictions brought on by international tariff conflicts. To listen to the full podcast, click here. You can also find the Dairy Defined podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, SoundCloud and Google Play. Broadcast outlets may use the MP3 file below. Please attribute information to NMPF.

NMPF’s Dairy Defined podcast explores today’s dairy farms and industry using high-quality data and podcast-style interviews to explain current dairy issues and dispel myths.

The National Milk Producers Federation, based in Arlington, VA, develops and carries out policies that advance dairy producers and the cooperatives they own. NMPF’s member cooperatives produce more than two-thirds of U.S. milk, making NMPF dairy’s voice on Capitol Hill and with government agencies. For more, visit

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