Even as U.S. dairy struggles to meet the immediate challenges of coronavirus, its work on expanding overseas markets continues “not with an eye on what’s going to happen necessarily in the next week, but what needs to happen over the next year or two” to help the industry recover, said Shawna Morris, vice president for trade at the National Milk Producers Federation.
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, Morris said – the importance of agriculture to the world’s economy is in the spotlight, and governments have responded to pressing needs by taking more practical approaches to regulations that have unnecessarily impeded trade, she said.
Despite the disruptions, trade officials need to keep long-range goals of open commerce that will be essential to returning dairy to prosperity in mind, 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.
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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 www.nmpf.org.