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Dairy groups praise USDA-FDA memo of understanding

The Agriculture Department and the Food and Drug Administration signed a memorandum of understanding to establish an interagency process to support exports of U.S. dairy products, which won praise from U.S. dairy groups.

The MOU will draw upon the expertise of FDA as well as USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service and Foreign Agricultural Service to streamline their work together on dairy export issues to the benefit of U.S. dairy farmers and manufacturers, the dairy groups said.

In a news release, FDA said, “The FDA is the competent authority providing regulatory oversight of programs that cover U.S. dairy facilities, ensuring the safety of milk and milk products, while the USDA, through its dairy grading service, is the lead agency on issuing dairy sanitary certificates, coordinating interagency collaboration related to U.S. exports of milk and milk products, and negotiating with foreign countries on certifications to meet their importing requirements.”

“The rising trend by trading partners requesting additional information and assurances from dairy exporters requires an exceptional level of coordination by government authorities to address and facilitate requests,” said Frank Yiannas, FDA deputy commissioner for food policy and response.

“This MOU reflects a concerted, modern approach to leverage our collective strengths as we move into a new era of smarter food safety.”

“Signing the MOU is an important milestone in the continued collaboration between USDA and FDA,” stated Greg Ibach, the Agriculture undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs.

“With the MOU in place, USDA and FDA have clearly defined the critical functions needed to assist the dairy industry to improve efficiency and effectiveness by focusing on the core competencies of each agency to engage on certain issues.”

USDA Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney said, “This MOU will help USDA and FDA address the challenges faced by U.S. dairy exporters and keep them competitive in the global marketplace.”

“I’m confident that it will help facilitate trade and help expand exports of wholesome, high-quality, U.S. dairy products.”

“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,” said Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council. “This MOU will help our industry continue to grow in an increasingly competitive global environment.”

“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,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation.

“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.”

The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) applauded the USDA-FDA move to ease U.S. dairy exports, noting each agency’s roles and responsibilities are clearly delineated.

IDFA President and CEO Michael Dykes noted that the MOU project had been underway in the agencies since 2017 and said, “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.”

“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,” Dykes said. “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.” ❖


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