ARLINGTON, VA. – The U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) took part Thursday, March 17 in a roundtable with the US House of Representatives’ bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus. The discussion focused on steps Congress could take to resolve supply chain problems that are impacting exporters.

Jaime Castaneda, executive vice president for policy development and strategy for USDEC and NMPF, spoke during the session about issues such as securing container and vessel space, supply chain congestion and high fees for shipping products to international customers.

“A conservative estimate of the supply chain challenges for dairy exporters in 2021 is over $1.5 billion in higher direct costs, reduced value and lost sales,” Castaneda said. “If this continues, we risk losing ground to our competitors in highly competitive foreign markets, which has ripple effects on the paychecks of American dairy farmers and the thousands of workers who support the export supply chain.”

Krysta Harden, president and chief executive officer of USDEC, said 2021 proved to be “a very difficult and unsustainable environment for US dairy exporters,” noting that the challenges encountered through supply chain backups risked the reputations of agricultural exporters.

“I have heard directly from customers their intent to switch suppliers to our competitors solely because of these congestion issues,” Harden said.

Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF, said the federation’s members were proud to be a part of the bipartisan roundtable, with hopes of “identifying additional areas where Congress can act to help alleviate the supply chain snarls that have been limiting US dairy producers’ ability to export.”

Both Harden and Mulhern thanked Reps. Jim Costa (D-CA) and Dusty Johnson (R-SD), for moderating the panel discussion, as those within the dairy industry continue to seek answers to their supply chain problems.

The American Trucking Association, National Retail Federation, Agricultural Transportation Coalition and National Association of Manufacturers also participated in the roundtable.

The USDEC is a non-profit, independent membership organization that represents the global trade interests of US dairy producers, proprietary processors and cooperatives, ingredient suppliers and export traders.