Every June, USDA joins the rest of the country to celebrate Dairy Month. It is a time to thank our nation’s dairy producers and processors for their tireless work to produce quality dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt. Here at USDA, besides getting our fill of our favorite dairy products, we celebrate our nation’s dairy industry every day by finding new markets where people can enjoy their products. This often entails working with other countries’ governments to negotiate export and import requirements as well as helping businesses meet these requirements.
Our nation’s dairy exporters reach new markets with the help of the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). Export certificates are often the critical piece in the trade puzzle. On this front, AMS offers certificates for more than 80% of the countries that accept U.S. dairy exports. Our Dairy Programs can verify that businesses’ dairy products meet export requirements. The AMS Dairy Grading Branch provides export certificates for products or conditions for which they have documentation for or from plants they inspect.
Certificates are paper or electronic documents which describe and attest to attributes of consignments of food destined for international trade. Certification of food may be based on a range of inspection activities including continuous online inspection, auditing of the quality assurance system, and examination of finished products. With the help of export certificates, importers can confidently receive products that meet requirements agreed upon by the U.S. and the importing country. As a result, people all over the world enjoy U.S. dairy products.
In recent years, AMS helped open up U.S produced products to several major importing nations. In March 2014, our agency enhanced its system, enabling the availability of electronic sanitary export certificates to China. Now exporters can request their China sanitary export certificates using the Electronic Document Creation System (eDocs). China is the world’s largest importer and is currently the second largest export destination for U.S. dairy products. Working with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), AMS helped 240 U.S. dairy and infant formula firms get audited and registered to export products to China using our eDocs system.
Another example of AMS connecting exporters to new markets happened in 2010 when the Customs Union (CU) trade bloc -- composed of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia -- came into existence. A new U.S. – CU dairy veterinary certificate was required to resume trade in those countries. Trade was halted in 2010 when the CU demanded changes to the current U.S. export health certificate. Negotiations continued until March 2014 when AMS was notified that all members of the CU accepted a U.S. proposed export certificate for pasteurized milk products. The U.S. government interagency team is discussing additional administrative steps before issuing certificates.
In addition to negotiating export certificate agreements with other countries, AMS has created a number of resources that will help dairy exporters. We encourage you to check out our Dairy Exports website. We recently held 20 webinar trainings that helped exporters become familiar with our systems. Our sites are equipped with important documents, frequently asked questions, and key contacts.
The effort to increase the number of export destinations for U.S. dairy businesses will help continue a positive trend for the industry. In the last 10 years, dairy exports have averaged a 21% increase per year. Currently, U.S. dairy exports are valued at $6 billion and the country is the world’s leading single country exporter of skim milk powder, cheese, whey, and lactose products.
AMS is proud to be a leader when it comes to increasing demand for U.S. dairy exports. Whether it’s June or any other time of the year, we are committed to supporting our nation’s dairy producers and processors. We want to make sure that people all over the world can enjoy their quality products.