It’s hard to overstate Mexico’s importance to America’s dairy farmers. When I talk to dairy farmers, I always remind them that Mexico is our industry’s most important trading partner, and they are becoming more important every single day.
Consider that last year alone, the United States exported over $1.8 billion in dairy products to Mexico, accounting for nearly a quarter of all U.S. dairy export value. That number will only grow.
Mexican dairy sales rose 10% last year, and growth is expected to keep up due to continued expansion in the Mexican market as a result of a joint effort, creating a great opportunity for both U.S. and Mexican producers. Today, U.S. dairy supplies more than 80% of all dairy product imports into Mexico. Most importantly, by working closely with Mexico, we are driving higher dairy consumption and complementing their domestic production.
As any dairy farmer knows, when you have a customer who is that essential to your own livelihood, you work hard to nurture that relationship. You also work to ensure that it is not a one-way relationship. You build trust, you work to overcome outside challenges, and you do everything in your power to ensure the smooth flow of goods across borders.
A meeting between neighbors
Addressing those common cause issues is at the heart of why representatives from the U.S. and Mexican dairy industries met for the 5th Binational Dairy Summit at Dairy Farmers of America’s headquarters in Kansas City last month.
Discussions focused on two core priorities: how we help each other to mutually grow our markets and how we address industry issues that concern us both. This includes issues like sustainability, animal care, and outside threats from plant-based imitators trading on dairy products’ name and brand.
The conversation, part of a long and steadfast relationship developed by the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), included leaders from USDEC, NMPF and Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), together with representatives from across the Mexican dairy industry. It was a chance to share information and create a work program of 10 new and updated priorities to promote collaboration, transparency, and mutual respect so that together we can best combat those in both of our countries who seek to erect barriers to trade between us.
That trust underlies why our partnership has only grown in importance since the early 2000s and was reinforced in 2016 when we held our first U.S.-Mexico Dairy Summit. Our priorities range from preserving, facilitating, and enhancing fair trade to continuing activities in defense of common cheese names and improving information sharing on topics ranging from sustainability to market trends.
We have so much to gain from farmers and processors finding common ground. Our meeting reaffirmed that a rising tide lifts all boats when it comes to our relationship. We spoke plainly about how approaches to dairy trade that don’t benefit Mexico’s consumers and industry don’t benefit the U.S. either.
The summit, and its positive outcomes, epitomize NMPF and USDEC’s approach to building bridges that benefit our members and our industry. We are excited to be able to continue to ensure it delivers positive results for our industry and our Mexican