WASHINGTON — On Thursday, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) outlining strengthened coordination between the FDA and the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) to facilitate the export of milk and milk products from the United States. U.S. dairy exports are valued at nearly $6 billion annually.
“The rising trend by trading partners requesting additional information and assurances from dairy exporters requires an exceptional level of coordination by government authorities to address and facilitate requests,” said Frank Yiannas, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response. “This MOU reflects a concerted, modern approach to leverage our collective strengths as we move into a New Era of Smarter Food Safety.”
“Signing the MOU is an important milestone in the continued collaboration between USDA and FDA,” stated USDA Under Secretary Greg Ibach, Marketing and Regulatory Programs. “With the MOU in place, USDA and FDA have clearly defined the critical functions needed to assist the dairy industry to improve efficiency and effectiveness by focusing on the core competencies of each agency to engage on certain issues.”
USDA Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney said, “This MOU will help USDA and FDA address the challenges faced by U.S. dairy exporters and keep them competitive in the global marketplace. I’m confident that it will help facilitate trade and help expand exports of wholesome, high-quality, U.S. dairy products.”
The FDA is the competent authority providing regulatory oversight of programs that cover U.S. dairy facilities, ensuring the safety of milk and milk products, while the USDA, through its dairy grading service, is the lead agency on issuing dairy sanitary certificates, coordinating interagency collaboration related to U.S. exports of milk and milk products, and negotiating with foreign countries on certifications to meet their importing requirements.
Under the MOU, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is the lead agency providing export-related services for milk and milk products and the issuance of more than 55,000 dairy sanitary export certificates annually to more than 125 countries. FAS remains the lead authority for international negotiations on trade of milk and milk products. USDA will manage foreign country facility-specific questionnaires.
USDA and FDA will collaborate on specific country certificate requirements with FDA maintaining the listing of facilities eligible to export and working with USDA to assess opportunities to develop an electronic platform for sharing information more efficiently.