April 12, 2017

Delegation Calls for End to Canadian Trade Restrictions

 |  By: Mike Opperman

Legislators in Wisconsin and New York have appealed to USDA to force Canada to reverse actions that have restricted exports of U.S. products to the Canadian market. These changes have caused at least two processors in Wisconsin and New York to lose significant contracts, forcing them to cut off as many as 100 producers as of May 1. 

U.S. Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) have called on the Trump Administration to act on the restrictive Canadian trade barriers they say are hurting American dairy farmers and processors.

The Senators sent a letter to Acting U.S. Trade Representative Stephen Vaughn, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Acting Secretary of Agriculture Michael Young, detailing the negative impact these unfair trade practices are having on America’s dairy industry and urging the Administration officials to immediately address this issue with the Canadian government and launch an investigation into these trade actions.

“We urge you to exhaust all potential avenues to bring Canada into compliance with its trade commitments and establish dependable trading conditions for U.S. companies exporting to Canada,” the Senators wrote. “Dairy farmers should not have their businesses ruined and lives upended as a result of this unfair trade practice. Canada must be clearly and swiftly reminded in a concrete way that dependable trading conditions between our two countries is critically important to their country as well.”

Current Canadian trade barriers have already started to hinder development and growth of the Upstate New York dairy industry. Companies like O-AT-KA and Cayuga Milk Ingredients, along with Ideal Dairy Farm, rely on trade with Canada for a significant percentage – millions of dollars – of their revenue. As the country’s third largest milk producing state, a significant impact on New York’s ability to tap into key foreign markets could also impact farmers in surrounding states. Therefore, any reductions in export sales could impact New York dairy manufacturers and their supplying farms, which are already struggling with depressed milk prices.

The letter text is available online here.

A Wisconsin delegation that includes Speaker Paul Ryan, Governor Scott Walker, Republican Senator Ron Johnson and Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin in addition to several other Wisconsin Congressmen added their own request to Vaughn, Ross and Young. 

"This situation underscores how Canada's new pricing policies are not only undermining trade with the United States but are displacing fresh milk produced by hard-working dairy farmers in Wisconsin and around the country," the letter states. "We urge you to take immediate action to address this dire situation where apparent unfair trade practices are putting Wisconsin dairy farmers' livelihoods at risk."

The full letter is available here.  

Canada has responded to trade allegations, saying that the U.S. is at fault for not regulating production. 


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