FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative participated in a roundtable discussion with Vice President Mike Pence during his visit to J&D Manufacturing in Eau Claire, Wis., on May 16. With a focus on trade, FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative board member and Athens, Wis., dairy farmer Wayne Gajewski expressed the need to pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) during this discussion.
“Trade agreements have proven to be very important for U.S. dairy, which is why it is imperative to pass the USMCA,” Gajewski said. “Every day that passes without ratifying USMCA is another day that the U.S. dairy industry risks losing valuable market share.”
Discussions focused on the value trade agreements like USMCA have for industries such as dairy, soybeans and manufacturing, to name a few. Pence highlighted several of the positive changes made to USMCA, including greater access to Canada's markets and continuing a great trading relationship with Mexico.
Jeff Lyon, general manager for FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative, said, “Trade is an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to U.S. milk prices, and the strong trade relationships that have been built over time are hanging in the balance as the USMCA waits to be passed by Congress. We appreciate Vice President Mike Pence for his words today focused on the value that USMCA provides to U.S. dairy and look forward to its swift passage soon. It is also important that the retaliatory tariffs are lifted to restore trade relations and continue to work towards free and fair trade.”
USMCA was originally signed by President Donald Trump on Nov. 30, 2018. FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative supports USMCA as it should yield benefits to U.S. dairy producers if fully enacted.
“It is important to all members of FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative that our concerns are heard,” Gajewski said. “We look forward to the passage of the USMCA and for the tariffs to be lifted – and hopefully soon, on both accounts.”
In addition to Gajewski, nine other FarmFirst members were in attendance to show support for passing USMCA, including board members Brian Wozniak of Stanley, Wis.; Jean Reisinger of Spring Green, Wis., and Rich Meyer of Unity, Wis.
FarmFirst was established in 2013 and is based in Madison, Wis. The cooperative represents farms in Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Michigan, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana through policy bargaining, dairy marketing services, laboratory testing opportunities and industry promotion.