Milk Plant

Cayuga Milk Ingredients CEO Kevin Ellis opens a container mixing powdered milk during a Jan. 22, 2015 tour of the plant.

Sarah Jean Condon, The Citizen

A trio of U.S. senators are urging President Donald Trump to act on Canadian dairy rules they say are "restrictive." 

New York's U.S. senators, Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer, and U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, a Wisconsin Democrat, sent a letter urging the Trump administration 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 letter was sent to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, acting U.S. Trade Representative Stephen Vaughn and acting Agriculture Secretary Michael Young. 

The senators raised concerns they have with two policies — Canada's Class 7 National Ingredients Strategy and the province of Ontario's Class 6 pricing programs. Schumer, D-N.Y., first brought attention to the challenges of the Canadian regulations during a visit last year to Cayuga Milk Ingredients in Aurelius

The Canadian government's national ingredients strategy and Ontario's pricing program, the senators say, intentionally target U.S. dairy imports and affect global milk powder markets. They believe the policies may violate Canada's trade commitments to the U.S. and the Canadians' role in the North American Free Trade Agreement and World Trade Organization. 

According to the senators, U.S. ultra-filtered milk exports have already been cut due to Ontario's pricing program. There are reports of more contracts being lost this year. 

"The loss of these, and likely other exports, as a result of the Class 6 and 7 programs will harm dairy manufacturers and their supplying farms in areas of our states that rely on the jobs the dairy industry provides," Baldwin, Gillibrand and Schumer wrote.

"In addition to these revised pricing policies, Canada has also reportedly been considering additional avenues that press reports indicate would be pursued strictly to curtail U.S. dairy exports." 

Schumer repeatedly urged President Barack Obama's administration to address the trade barriers imposed by Canada. He labeled Canada's trade rules as "protectionist." 

Other members of New York's congressional delegation got involved. Gov. Andrew Cuomo also intervened and spoke out against the policies

No action was taken before Obama left office. 

With Trump now in the White House, New York's elected leaders and others who represent major dairy producing states are renewing their calls for the U.S. government to act. 

"Dairy farmers should not have their businesses ruined and lives upended as a result of this unfair trade practice," the senators wrote. "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." 

Online producer Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.