OPINION  The FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative approves of the improvements made to the latest trade-mitigation package for farmers. We greatly appreciate the work of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in maintaining a focus on our dairy farmers during this trying time of decreased exports. The increased payment rate of 20 cents per hundredweight is an improvement from 12 cents. But it still doesn’t compare to the value lost by our dairy farmers due to the trade disputes.

We urge Congress to pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement in addition to the Trump Administration finalizing a trade agreement with China. As some of U.S. dairy’s biggest export markets, restoring trade relationships with improved market access for free and fair trade deals is exactly what our U.S. farmers need right now.

While dairy farmers appreciate the trade-aid support, we would much rather rely on the market for improved prices for our valuable product. Resolving those trade issues sooner than later is what is in the best interests for U.S. dairy farmers. We hope the USDA realizes that the payments are not the long-term support we need. The payment rates are a step in the right direction. But we hope the production history used in those payment calculations are updated soon to more accurately reflect the true financial loss we are experiencing on our farms.

Jeff Lyon is the general manager of FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative. John Rettler, a dairy farmer, is the president of FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative, which represents farmers by providing legislative and regulatory advocacy, dairy-marketing services, disaster protection, laboratory-testing opportunities and industry promotion. Visit www.FarmFirstDairyCooperative.com for more information.