Local dairy farmers react to Senate’s passage of new trade deal

JANESVILLE, Wis (WMTV) - A new trade deal is on its way to President Trump’s desk for his signature. The Senate passed the United States Mexico Canada Agreement USMCA on Thurs. with a bi-partisan vote.

The agreement directly impacts those in agriculture, particularly dairy farmers. Brian Barlass, one of the owners of Barlass Jerseys in Janesville, said they will not see the impacts right away, but hope the deal creates long-term stability in an already struggling industry.

He said how the United States trades with other countries has created hurdles for their business.

"It's made for challenging markets for us. We just haven't known where prices were going to land, prices were depressed and we don't know when they are going to turn around,” he said.

Kristin Paul, Barlass’ sister, works as the director of field services for the American Jersey Cattle Association. She said a strong dairy industry affects the entire state. She said the USMCA agreement would eliminate unfair pricing and opens more opportunities to export to Canada. She also said it creates more stability with Mexico.

"Mexico is the number one buyer of the U.S. dairy exports, obviously cheese is a part of that. So solidifying that relationship with Mexico is just a really strong move,” she said.

According toFarmers for Free Trade , in 2018 Wisconsin exported 189 million dollars of dairy products to Canada and Mexico.

If more product can be exported, milk prices can ultimately go up, which is the hope for farmers like Barlass.

“It's not going to be an overnight change but it will definitely be a positive for the dairy industry and for agriculture in general,” he said.