The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will establish an interagency process to further support exports of U.S. dairy products. Both agencies play critical roles in facilitating foreign sales of American-made dairy products, which is recognized and appreciated by the U.S. dairy industry. This MOU will draw upon the expertise of FDA as well as USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) to deepen and streamline their work together on the issues facing dairy exports to the benefit of U.S. dairy farmers and manufacturers.
The MOU, a project underway within the agencies since 2017, is designed to maximize efficiency in the U.S. government’s support for U.S. dairy export requests from foreign governments by outlining each agency’s primary areas of responsibility for dairy exports. For example, FDA’s responsibilities as outlined in the MOU focus on ensuring dairy products are safe and liaising with USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), and foreign governments on relevant food safety questions as necessary. AMS’s responsibilities focus on providing sanitary certificates and other export-related services to dairy exporters, such as export verification programs or facilitating the submission of facility questionnaires to foreign governments as needed. FAS’s responsibilities focus on facilitating sanitary certificate negotiations and liaising with foreign governments on matters related to dairy exports.
“Today’s announcement of an interagency MOU on dairy trade between USDA and FDA is the result of years of conversation and efforts between stakeholders within the U.S. dairy industry and the U.S. government to establish consistent guidance on tackling the rising number of export challenges facing our industry. This MOU will help our industry continue to grow in an increasingly competitive global environment,” said Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of USDEC.
“This new partnership ensures that the staff at USDA and FDA are working together in the most efficient way possible to lower barriers for our farmer’s dairy exports. Increasing U.S. dairy exports will strengthen the health of our farmers and rural communities, which is more important than ever as America’s dairy industry faces new and unprecedented challenges. We appreciate all of the hard work from both agencies and stand ready to support the USDA and FDA’s commitment to open new doors for U.S. dairy exports,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF.
IDFA President and CEO Michael Dykes, D.V.M., had this to say about the MOU: “We are excited to share this good news with IDFA’s members across the dairy supply chain. IDFA has been a tireless advocate for this kind of federal agency efficiency and cooperation, and seeing this collaborative effort come to fruition to support U.S. dairy exports is a tremendous accomplishment and a huge value-add for the dairy industry. IDFA appreciates the efforts of USDA and FDA to finalize this MOU and facilitate our industry’s global growth.”
Beyond individual agency responsibilities, the MOU outlines how the agencies will communicate and collaborate to ensure dairy export markets remain open when new foreign requirements arise requiring the U.S. government’s response, such as recently implemented or revised certificates in China or Taiwan. The MOU also provides a published reference of each agency’s involvement in the export of U.S. dairy products, which will help address questions from foreign governments that may not have previously understood that more than one agency is involved in dairy exports.
“In recent years, more and more countries have erected obstacles and barriers to U.S. dairy exports, including increasingly complex requirements for statements, certificates, questionnaires, and facility listings,” said Dykes. “While the U.S. government opposes overly burdensome requirements on behalf of U.S. food and agricultural exporters, U.S. officials are barraged with an influx of requests from foreign governments that make it increasingly difficult for all U.S. parties. This MOU keeps our dairy industry and U.S. government a step ahead, positioning U.S. dairy for growth by streamlining roles and resources already in place.”
In 2019, the United States exported $5.9 billion in dairy products, one of the strongest years on record for dairy exports. The MOU is effective immediately and can be reviewed here.