Senator Schumer: Don't Forget Dairy in NAFTA Renegotiation

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer speaks with dairy farmer cooperative members and workers at Cayuga Milk Ingredients in Aurelius, New York.
( U.S. Senator Charles Schumer )

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) is calling for U.S. trade officials to prioritize leveling the playing field with Canada when it comes to renegotiating the North American Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

On April 16, Schumer released a statement while visiting Cayuga Milk Ingredients, a dairy processor in Aurelius, New York, imploring the Trump Administration to keep dairy at the negotiating table. Schumer also sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Robert Lighthizer about the trade deal.

“Our hardworking New York dairy farmers and producers like Cayuga Milk Ingredients 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.

At issue for Schumer are high tariffs imposed and dairy pricing policies on U.S. dairy products exported to Canada that have effectively put up a “Dairy Wall.” He adds the system has distorted the global dairy trade market be closing off a market.

Canada’s tariffs on milk are 270% through the “Class 7” pricing program. Through the program Canada has built up a surplus of powder milk that Schumer alleges has led to a tripled amount of milk powder exports from Canada flooding the global market.

“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.

Cooperatives and processors like Cayuga Milk Ingredients have seen the impact of Canada’s manipulative trade practices. Last year, Cayuga Milk Ingredients lost $30 million in annual sales related to the Class 7 milk price program in Canada.

Kevin Ellis, CEO of Cayuga Milk Ingredients, says it is clear that Canada has been dumping milk powder onto the global market while imposing high tariffs on milk.

“If Canada wants to maintain supply management, then they must manage their milk supply and not dump their excesses on the world markets,” Ellis says. “I applaud Senator Schumer for his steadfast support of New York dairy farmers and his ongoing efforts to force Canada to dismantle its manipulated market distorting Class 7 pricing program.”

To learn more about NAFTA from the Canadian perspective listen to a discussion that Farm Journal's MILK had with Real Agriculture founder Shaun Haney. Also, read Dairy Herd Management editor Mike Opperman's thoughts after speaking with dairy farmers from both the U.S. and Canada about NAFTA.