The board of directors of the National Milk Producers Federation earlier this month voted to continue Cooperatives Working Together, the farmer-funded export assistance program, through 2018 at the current funding level of four cents per hundredweight.
NMPF developed and manages the 13-year-old program.
CWT's extension until December 31, 2018, comes at a time of increasing U.S. milk production, declining world dairy prices and increased global competition due to the removal of European Union milk quotas.
"With the United States exporting the equivalent of one-seventh of its milk production, today's vote will help ensure that this country remains a consistent and competitive supplier of dairy products to the world," said NMPF Board Chairman Randy Mooney, a dairy farmer from Rogersville, Mo.
"Through its vote, the NMPF board recognizes how important CWT is in helping every farmer gain access to fast-growing overseas markets," Mooney added. "The program remains a tremendous self-help tool for all of America's dairy producers."
CWT is a voluntary membership program funded by contributions from 37 dairy cooperatives and more than 100 individual farmers. The money raised from the CWT membership fee of four cents per hundredweight helps maintain U.S. exports in an increasingly competitive world market.
CWT's member cooperatives submit bids requesting help with sales in specific foreign markets. Only if the amount is justified is the bid accepted and financial assistance provided. The bidder then has six months to deliver the product to the overseas purchaser.
Through the first five months of 2015 alone, CWT has helped its members contract to sell 35.1 million pounds of cheese, 26.6 million pounds of butter and 20.1 million pounds of whole milk powder. Together, these transactions will export the equivalent of 1.07 billion pounds of milk to customers in 28 countries on five continents.