U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer is continuing his months-long effort to fight back against new Canadian trade rules that negatively impact upstate New York dairy producers, such as Cayuga Milk Ingredients in Aurelius.
Schumer, D-N.Y., called U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Wednesday and urged him to take action against the policies, which he considers "protectionist" and "restrictive."
According to Schumer's office, the senator also called Bruce Heyman, the U.S. ambassador to Canada.
"Canada's new restrictive dairy trade and pricing policies fly directly in the face of fair trade agreements signed by the U.S. and Canada," Schumer said in a statement. "That's why I went straight to the top and called both Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack and Ambassador Heyman directly — and I urged them to take more aggressive action against Canada."
The main issue for U.S. dairy producers is a targeted pricing policy adopted by the Ontario government. This policy, Schumer says, discourages Canadian cheesemakers from using ultra-filtered milk that's imported from the U.S.
Cayuga Milk Ingredients is one of the entities that exports ultra-filtered milk to Canada.
The policy would set the price of Canadian products below the imports — a move that would artificially remove the pricing advantage Cayuga Milk Ingredients and other producers enjoyed.
The Ontario targeted pricing policy is the inspiration for Canada's National Ingredients Strategy, which has a similar goal: To encourage Canadian processors to stop using ultra-filtered milk imports from the U.S.
Kevin Ellis, CEO of Cayuga Milk Ingredients, said in May that the Aurelius-based company would lose $30 million in export business if the Canadian rules are adopted.
"It's an export sale we would have to work very, very hard to replace," he said.
Ellis recently added that Cayuga Milk Ingredients is already losing customers due to Canada's new restrictions. He also raised the possibility of layoffs if the policies remain in place and continue to affect the company's finances.
Earlier this month, Schumer called on Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman to investigate Canada's new rules. He said it's "unacceptable" that Canada would create policies designed to harm U.S. dairy producers and upstate New York farms.
"Our New York dairy producers work hard every day to provide for their families and export quality products to the world — and they deserve to know that everyone's competing on a level playing field," Schumer said.