“It’s an old-fashioned battle, a fight to save our farmers from a global food cartel,” said John Deane, who represents the dairy industry and represents more than 300 farms in California.
“Farmers are being targeted, but the reality is they’re being targeted at a lower price, at a faster pace, and by a much more aggressive force.”
The fight against the dairy cartel, Deane said, is a matter of economics and the environment.
“There’s an economic argument to be made that dairy is cheaper, and farmers are being forced to take more time to produce, to take longer to package, to pay the same prices,” Deane told reporters.
Deane noted that the United States is now home to more than 1.6 billion cows, a third of the world’s total cattle population.
The Trump administration is currently considering whether to lift a moratorium on importing milk from Mexico, a move that could force dairy producers to close, potentially leading to price spikes.
The dairy industry, along with the poultry industry, is among the most heavily subsidized in the world.
In February, Trump threatened to impose a $200 billion tariff on milk exports to the United Kingdom if British Prime Minister Theresa May does not reverse a decision to phase out subsidies to dairy farmers.
“We can’t continue to subsidize the industry,” Deanes said.
“The price of milk is way up.
It’s way up right now.”
Deane is one of several California politicians who have called on Trump to lift the dairy ban.
The California Milk Producers Federation, the largest trade association representing the state’s dairy farmers, said in a statement it is “unwilling to sit idly by while dairy farmers across the state are forced to sacrifice their livelihoods in the name of protection.”
Trump, who has called the trade war a “war on the farmers,” also recently ordered the Agriculture Department to start phasing out subsidized milk imports from Canada and Mexico, saying they were “subsidizing the cartels.”
The Trump Administration is currently reviewing dairy subsidies, and a decision could be made in as little as a week.
Deanes office said the dairy companies, like other agribusiness groups, have a stake in the outcome.
“It is time for the administration to act on the merits of this important issue and to not just protect the industry but the farmers who have been the victims of a system that is not working,” Deans office said.
Trump is expected to announce a final decision by the end of the month, but it is not clear how quickly he will lift the ban.
Deans announcement comes after other members of the dairy business, including the California Growers Association, the California Meat Producers Association, and the American Meat Institute, joined in calling for the president to lift his ban.
“As a nation, we must all be united against this cartel that has corrupted the marketplace and has turned farmers into consumers,” Deany said in his statement.
“Agriculture is the backbone of our economy and we must protect it as we work to save the farmers and the agricultural industry from a failed system.”