Will new trade agreement save U.S. dairy industry?

Posted at 6:33 PM, Oct 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-02 10:12:05-04

American dairy farmers have been in a severe financial crisis for several years.  The price of milk has dropped so low that it costs farms much more to produce the milk than it can be sold for.

The result is dairy farms, including those in WNY, are losing money every single day.

For dairy families, the stress is so great that several agencies are sending out "suicide prevention" warnings and information because of the crisis.

However, there might be a glimmer of hope.

The United States, Mexico and Canada have come to terms on a new trade agreement called USMCA.

One of the key parts of the agreement deals with stopping Canada from undercutting American dairy exports by selling government-subsidized dairy products far below market value.

Dustin Bliss, a Cattaraugus County diary farmer with 500 cows, said Canada was selling skim-milk powder to Mexico at half the cost of the global milk price.

Mexico had been a major importer of U.S. dairy products, and Bliss said, the Canadian action "un-fairly stole" the market from American dairy farmers.

Congress still has to ratify the agreement.

Dustin Bliss hopes it will go quickly because of its implication for workers in the dairy, automobile and steel industries.

Dairy farmers would also like to see a greater emphasis on the health benefits of drinking milk in schools, explained Bliss, who feels many kids have turned to sugary drinks instead.


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