The Next 5%: A Strategic Dairy Imperative

Consumer demand for dairy is growing, here and abroad. Positioning the U.S. Industry to consistently supply these demands is essential to maintain a strong and vital dairy farming sector. We need to expand export markets for U.S. milk.

We’ve crunched the numbers at USDEC, and come up with a plan we are calling, “The Next 5%.” Before I talk more about that, a quick recap on what exports have already brought to the table.

In the mid-1990s, the United States was exporting the equivalent of about 4-5% of the U.S. milk supply, much of it government-subsidized commodities. Now, we are shipping 14-15% of the U.S. milk supply overseas, unsubsidized, in the form of cheese, skim milk powder, infant formula, whey, high-value milk fractions and other products used by increasingly sophisticated global foodservice and food processing industries.

Since 2003, nearly half of the “new” milk produced in the U.S. has gone to export markets. Dairy exports have created up to 100,000 good-paying jobs in this country, many in rural regions with struggling economies. Dairy exports, in fact, contribute nearly $15 billion annually to the U.S. economy.

To protect the progress we have made and deliver further benefits, we need to protect export market share we currently hold and increase volumes as required by U.S. milk production growth.

The Next 5% seeks to lift U.S. export volume from around 15% of annual U.S. milk production to 20%. The goal was set in consultation with a broad representation of U.S. dairy cooperatives and processors and backed by USDEC research and analysis. USDEC will continue to meet with industry in the coming weeks to flesh out further details. But tactics are already falling into place.

Critical to growth is the need to continue to emphasize the importance of trade to the communities in which we all live and work and to government representatives making decisions about U.S. trade policy and trade agreements. It is essential to defend existing U.S….

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