Mexico is an important export market for American dairy, specifically cheese. Mexico takes up 28 percent of all U.S. cheese exports, which means it buys more American cheese than any other market. Mexico put the tariffs in place in response to the tariffs on steel and aluminum put into effect by President Trump. U.S. Dairy Export Council President and CEO Tom Vilsack says, “Those tariffs on cheese will potentially eliminate the competitive advantage we have in our number one market. That’s a legitimate concern.” Last year alone, the U.S. held 75 percent of the entire Mexican cheese import market.
The Mexican tariffs include a 15 percent duty on fresh cheeses, which climbs to 25 percent after July 5th. Shredded or powdered cheeses face a 10 percent tariff, which jumps to 20 percent after July 5th. The full impact of the tariffs on the price of milk is still unknown. Greg Ibach, Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulation, says the Trump Administration is monitoring the situation closely and will not hesitate to take action to prevent farmers from bearing the brunt of trade negotiations. U.S. cheese imports to Mexico were worth $391 million last year.