A coalition of U.S. dairy groups is urging the Trump administration to reach a trade agreement with Japan quickly. More than 70 dairy groups and companies sent a letter to Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue this week asking the administration to finalize a strong trade deal with Japan quickly.
The coalition, including the National Milk Producers Federation and U.S. Dairy Export Council, say Japan is an established market with a growing demand for dairy products. The letter states that a robust trade agreement with Japan “will bring a much-needed boost to the economic health of the U.S. dairy industry.”
The letter says the Japan-EU agreement and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership have allowed the European Union, New Zealand and Australia to position themselves to take sales from the U.S. dairy industry. The U.S. exported $270 million in dairy products to Japan in 2018. Once the trade deals are fully implemented, the U.S. risks losing $5.4 billion in total export sales.
President Donald Trump’s recent comments on wheat exports to Japan have generated some negative press among one of his biggest groups of supporters.
The Hagstrom Report says when the president was speaking in Pennsylvania, one of the topics was the U.S. trade deficit with Japan. Trump said, “They send thousands, even millions of cars to us. We send them wheat. That’s not a good deal. And they don’t even want our wheat. They do it because they want us to at least feel that we’re okay.”
The National Association of Wheat Growers responded quickly via Twitter. “Mr. President, Japan is the number one market for U.S. wheat exports on average, where we hold just over 50 percent of the market. They don’t buy our wheat because ‘they want us to feel okay.’ They buy it because it’s the highest-quality wheat in the world. That’s not fake news.”
The negative reaction to Trump’s statement followed farmers venting about the administration’s policies when Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue appeared at Farmfest in Minnesota.
*Editor note* Ag Secretary Perdue will be at the Nebraska State Fair on Friday, August 23 for a town hall event at 11:30 in the Raising Nebraska Building.