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  • Webinar promotes science-based global policies that benefit U.S. dairy exports

    By USDEC August 28, 2020

    Event attended by 350 global influencers tells dairy's positive story while pushing back on the anti-animal and anti-dairy narratives of vegan activists.

    The U.S. Dairy Export Council co-hosted a global webinar on Wednesday to build support for the development and implementation of science-based policies governing global dairy trade.

    The webinar, “Dairy’s Role in a Responsible and Sustainable Food System,” featured expert presentations on dairy’s nutrition and health benefits, environmental sustainability, socio-economic development and animal care.

    VIDEO: DFA's Rick Smith and Secretary Vilsack address global dairy issues

    A full recording of the webinar is available here via YouTube.

    The webinar drew nearly 350 attendees, many of them government officials and thought leaders influential in establishing policies impacting dairy trade and consumption in the Americas and Caribbean.

    Pushing back against anti-dairy activists

    Nick Gardner2 (2)"We are thrilled with the global impact the event created and plan to do another webinar with one of our key Latin American partners—the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA)—in October," said Nick Gardner, USDEC Vice President, Codex and International Regulatory Affairs, who helped organize the event. "With the UN Sustainable Food Systems Summit approaching next year, we need to push back against the anti-animal and anti-dairy narrative vegan activists are pushing in global institutions."

    USDEC joined IICA and the Global Dairy Platform (GDP) to host this week's webinar. 

    Global alliances a key to future success

    USDEC President and CEO Tom Vilsack stressed the importance of alliances with IICA, GDP and others in USDEC’s efforts to promote and defend dairy’s role in sustainable food systems.

    "I want to acknowledge the leadership of (IICA general director Manuel Otero) in helping to form the alliances that are so critically important as we go into international organizations to discuss the rules, the regulations and the standards that will govern the dairy industry and agriculture generally," Vilsack said. 

    Vilsack also praised GDP and its chairman, Rick Smith, president and CEO of Dairy Farmers of America. Smith joined Vilsack as a keynote speaker at the opening of the meeting (see video above).

    Vilsack cited statistics showing the dairy industry's role in providing healthy and affordable nutrition, working toward lower environmental impact and providing livelihoods to millions of people around the world.

    The need to speak with one dairy voice

    Alliances help make the U.S. dairy industry's science-based message louder and clearer when engaging with international organizations like the World Health Organization and UN Food and Agriculture Organization, a specialized agency that leads international efforts to defeat hunger and improve nutrition and food security.

    "We need partners to help execute forward-looking global opportunities like this to inform and drive sound trade and regulatory policies affecting dairy exports. Our goal is to help clear the way for U.S. dairy exporters to fairly market dairy products despite efforts by those who oppose animal agriculture to try to shut us out," said Gardner after the webinar.

    Pro-dairy publication in the works

    The organizers of this week's webinar plan to produce a publication that USDEC will leverage globally (in international organizations like Codex, World Health Organization, Food and Agriculture Organization) to promote and defend dairy’s important role in the ongoing dialogue on sustainable foods systems.

    This dialogue will culminate next year with the UN Sustainable Food Systems Summit, where it will be essential to accurately portray the benefits dairy provides in the food system and the significant progress that dairy is making towards more sustainable production. Given the U.S. dairy industry's ongoing efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the U.S. has a particularly compelling story to tell.

    More global alliances to come

    USDEC is planning to hold a second webinar with IICA in October looking more broadly at the important role that livestock production and animal protein play in Western Hemisphere food systems, utilizing several examples specific to U.S. dairy.

    "These efforts are designed to be a strong rebuttal to continued calls for the removal of animal protein, including dairy, from our food systems and dietary guidance in favor of all plant-based diets," said Gardner. 

    Mark O'Keefe is vice president of editorial services at the U.S. Dairy Export Council.

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    The U.S. Dairy Export Council fosters collaborative industry partnerships with processors, trading companies and others to enhance global demand for U.S. dairy products and ingredients. USDEC is primarily supported by Dairy Management Inc. through the dairy farmer checkoff. How to republish this post.  

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