US dairy farmers ‘deeply concerned’ about exports situation

An escalating trade spat between the U.S. and some of its closest trading partners has American dairy farmers worried about the harm tariffs on milk and cheese could do to their businesses.

“They’re deeply concerned about the current situation,” U.S. Dairy Council Export CEO Tom Vilsack said during an interview on FOX Business’ “Countdown to the Closing Bell” with Liz Claman. “We had momentum. The first four months of this year we saw record exports to Canada, to Mexico and to China. Now, there’s a little bit of uncertainty.”

Other countries, in total, buy $628 billion in dairy products from the U.S. But now, Canada is threatening a 270% tariff on American milk, in a direct, tit-for-tat retaliation to President Trump’s imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

Canada wasn't the only country to respond by targeting the dairy sector: Mexico will impose a 25% tariff on cheese starting in July, and China will impose a 25% tariff on imports of milk, cream, yogurt, whey, butter and cheese.

“Producers are just now coming out of a significant low price situation,” Vilsack said. “They were hopeful that this year would be a better year than last year, and now there’s a bit of uncertainty.”

From here, Vilsack said he hopes to see the Trump administration -- which has been aggressive in pursuing what it believes to be fair trade deals with U.S. allies -- resolve the discussions revolving around the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico. The president, he said, then needs to work through the challenges with Beijing and “continue to maintain momentum.”