By Tom Vilsack
What California industry directly employs more than 104,000 people with a ripple effect that supports an additional 285,000 full-time jobs in retail, construction and other sectors?
If you said dairy, reward yourself with a cold glass of milk.
But don’t celebrate long. Our success is global and fragile. Seemingly small actions giving the European Union and other U.S. competitors the upper hand can inflict damage on the California economy.
Conversely, smart trade deals remove barriers and spur growth. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement, dairy exports to Mexico are up 885 percent (to $1.2 billion in 2016).
The dairy industry supports President Donald Trump’s effort to modernize a trade deal created when Google wasn’t even a domain name, much less a verb. But walking away from NAFTA as threatened would damage a dairy industry that employs far more Californians than even the tech giant in Palo Alto.
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