U.S. dairy farmers already struggling with low milk prices worry President Donald Trump’s talk of renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement could harm trade to Mexico, its biggest export market.
About 15 percent of dairy production in the United States is exported, with one-third valued at $1.2 billion going to Mexico in the form of milk powder, cheese and whey protein, according to the National Milk Producers Federation, which says trade with Mexico is its top priority. That’s nearly double the value exported to Canada, the country’s second-biggest export market, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.
“The income of dairy farmers, whether they’re in Vermont or California, depends heavily on our export to Mexico,” said Jaime Castaneda, senior vice president responsible for domestic and international policy for the federation.
If just 1, 2 or 3 percent of the exports were to come back to the United States, “we would see a significant drop on overall prices,” he said.