Tom Visilak, former Secretary of Agriculture and president of the Export Dairy Council, is conducting negotiations with dairy traders in China this week. Visilak hopes to establish a trade deal that lifts retaliatory tariffs that China imposed on dairy imports from the United States to dump excess US-produced dairy onto Chinese consumers. “With an abundant supply of milk, US dairy exporters are uniquely equipped to meet growing Chinese demand for a wide range of nutritious, high-quality dairy products that are safely and sustainably produced,” Vilsack said. “This is a partnership that will continue to benefit both countries for years to come.” Last year, the US dairy stockpile reached an all-time record high of 78 million gallons of unsold milk while the cheese stockpile reached a record high this year of 1.39 billion pounds. This month, the United States Department of Agriculture paid dairy farmers $50 million for 11 to 13 million gallons of excess milk that it plans to distribute to assistance programs such as food banks and schools. While some proponents of the dairy industry believe that low milk prices are responsible for the ailing industry, new research presented by animal-feed supplier Cargill revealed that global milk consumption has decreased by 22 percent in recent years, while plant-based milk consumption has tripled.
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