For the second time in a week U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) has gone to bat for dairy farmers in the U.S. prior to possible renegotiations for the North American Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
On April 23, Schumer released a statement while visiting fourth-generation family owned Anderson Farm near Avon, New York, imploring U.S. trade officials to secure a level playing field with Canadian producers.
During the visit Schumer pointed out that farmers like the Anderson family, who are one of the 340 dairy farmer members of Upstate Niagara Co-Op, have been negatively impacted by Canada’s dairy trade policies.
"Our hardworking New York dairy farmers and producers like Upstate Niagara Co-Op’s 340 farm family members across the Finger Lakes and O-AT-KA Milk Products in Batavia are the most competitive in the world, but they depend on stable and fair rules to compete in a global economy, to sell their dairy products, expand their business and create new local jobs," Schumer says.
Schumer alleges that the 270 percent tariff on milk placed through Canada’s Class 7 pricing program is distorting to global market because Canada has tripled milk powder exports through the initiative and dumped powder on the world market.
Dairy processors in the U.S. have been impacted by the Class 7 program. Since Class 7 started, O-AT-KA lost $19 million in annual sales of Ultra Filtered milk (UF Milk), a product used to make cheese and other dairy products that it had been exporting into Canada. The Canadian market previously accounted for 20% (about 180 million pounds) of all of O-AT-KA’s milk volume.
John Gould, owner of an Upstate Niagara Co-Op dairy farm in Genesee County and O-AT-KA Milk Products Cooperative Inc. President and Chairman says, "Canada has a long history of erecting barriers to trade when it comes to dairy and the creation of Class 7 is an example of that. Canada's Class 7 market manipulation has caused harm to O-AT-KA Milk Products and their farm family owners, whose investments in serving legitimate customers in Canada have been blocked."
"As NAFTA is renegotiated, it is time that Canadian gamesmanship ends and a constructive agreement is reached that allows market participation and access under rules that all trading partners can follow. We thank Senator Schumer for his leadership and work in keeping this important issue top of mind as negotiations proceed," Gould says.
Schumer made a similar statement on April 16 while visiting the Cayuga Milk Ingredients, a dairy processor in Aurelius, New York. During that visit he announced a letter that was sent to U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Robert Lighthizer.
"As trade officials near a deal to renegotiate NAFTA – an issue President Trump and I both agree on – we must make it a top priority to begin reversing restrictive dairy pricing policies in Canada that are hurting our dairy producers at their core, and now is a real opportunity to do just that," Schumer says.