November 3, 2014 — We keep hearing about weak world markets and farmers are getting more nervous about a big drop in exports. We asked Alan Levitt, Vice President of Communications for the U.S. Dairy Export Council what he’s been hearing from USDEC members.
“Farmers are right to be concerned,” Levitt reported on Monday’s DairyLine. “I’ve just come back from the USDEC fall board meeting, where U.S. exporters gather to learn and share, and it was a good meeting.”
He says USDEC members are engaged and understand that conditions are tougher; they understand that it’s more of a buyers’ market and orders are tougher to come by. But they’re not shrinking from it. They’re retrenching.
As far as market conditions, Tim Hunt from Rabobank gave his outlook and he thinks markets will be soft for the next 9-12 months.
“So, we should be prepared for that,” Levitt said.
But the Rabobank report also revealed: “We shouldn’t confuse a temporary malaise with terminal illness.” Hunt reported the “global window of opportunity for U.S. suppliers is still open,” because over the last year everyone focused so hard on China that they may be missed out on some other markets. Now that prices are more moderate, there are many other windows of opportunity to explore, like Southeast Asia and the Middle East/North Africa region. The world still wants to buy and consume dairy.
And is USDEC doing anything differently to help shore up exports?
“We’re continuing to focus on programs and activities that keep a smooth environment in the medium and long term, as we always do,” Levitt said. “We work to create relationships that lead to sales. And we solve regulatory challenges and provide insights to identify opportunities.”
A lot of what USDEC does is technical assistance. For instance, you may recall back in May, China implemented a new rule requiring all companies exporting to China to be registered on an FDA list. USDEC staff worked with U.S. and Chinese regulators for over two years to ensure a smooth transition on this, and they are continuing to work with them to get companies added who didn’t get on the list in May.
“We also continue to work with our trade negotiators to so we get the best possible outcome in the TPP deal,” Levitt reported. “We’re getting into the home stretch now and this agreement has the potential to give us new more access to Japan and Canada – That would be a big deal.”
These are the sorts of things USDEC continues to do to help enhance the dairy industry’s prospects in the medium and longer term.