MILWAUKEE — Wisconsin dairy farmers and cheesemakers remain hopeful that a new trade deal between the U.S. and Mexico will augment business in a key state export market.
The preliminary U.S.-Mexico deal announced Monday by President Donald Trump calls for zero tariffs on dairy and agricultural products, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. Mexico also has agreed to not restrict market access for commonly named U.S. cheeses.
"We are very happy that this deal has been reached," said Jeff Schwager, president of Sartori Cheese in Plymouth.
No other country imports more dairy products than Mexico, said Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative president Brody Stapel. He added that the potential loss of that market has caused anxiety for farmers over the past several months.
"Let's face it. These are tough times for dairy farmers — tough enough even without all the uncertainty created by trade wars," said Stapel. "So we should celebrate this for the major step forward that it is."
Mexico and Canada are the state's biggest trading partners.
Trump said the tentative trade agreement would replace the North American Free Trade Agreement , which he said had "bad connotations" for the U.S. Full details of the agreement haven't yet been released.
"It's a big day for trade," the president said. "It's a big day for our country."
Trump said he intends to terminate NAFTA, and that the U.S. would immediately begin negotiations with Canada, the third party in the trilateral trade pact.