Dairy group warns of dangers of new U.S. tariffs

Wisconsin State Farmer

A group representing hundreds of Midwestern dairy farmers sounded off on the newly imposed tariffs by the United States on steel and aluminum from Canada, the European Union and Mexico. The tariffs, which took effect earlier this month, are causing retaliatory levies, including on U.S. cheese and yogurt exports.

Brody Stapel

Brody Stapel, president of the board of directors for Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative, who has a dairy farm in Cedar Grove, Wis., made the following comments.

“Dairy farmers and processors simply cannot afford a trade war that will choke off access to major partners. This is especially true of Mexico, which buys nearly a quarter of all dairy products exported by the United States. That amounted to $1.3 billion last year, enough to support 1,500 dairy farms and 25,000 jobs. The stakes are high.

“U.S. dairy has become an important player in the global marketplace. The fallout from the tariffs, which underscores how interconnected the markets are, would undermine this progress. With the demand for protein steadily growing around the world, we have tremendous opportunities and we need to be free to pursue them. 

“Edge has a straightforward trade objective: Expand access to global markets with no net loss to existing ones. We should be nurturing more trade opportunities and not disrupting long-standing favorable relationships.

“That is the message we are communicating to the administration, particularly top-level officials at U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, as well as our members of Congress.

“We hope this tariff approach is not the endgame and that there will be a quick and favorable resolution to prevent what could be tragic losses for farmers and the businesses that support them.”