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AURELIUS — With negotiations around the North American Free Trade Agreement on the table, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer wants to make sure federal officials undo dairy trade practices by Canada that have hurt farmers and dairy cooperatives, including Cayuga Milk Ingredients.

Schumer, D-New York, visited the Aurelius milk plant Monday morning and said he'd continue to call on U.S. trade officials to abolish the high milk tariffs Canada established on ultra-filtered products. CMI alone lost $30 million in the switch.

"Canada, when it comes to dairy, acts like China when it comes to trade," Schumer said. "Hope is on the horizon. The President (Donald Trump) correctly, in my opinion, wants to renegotiate NAFTA."

Schumer said he agrees with Trump on trade issues more than past presidents, and called on him "to fix our milk problem and help our dairy farmers." With Cayuga County now the second largest dairy producer in the state, Schumer said revisions would be important to farmers, too. 

With House Speaker Paul Ryan having announced his retirement after this year, Schumer said that could free up more time for Ryan to focus on the trade problem, too. He also called on U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to consider dairy in the NAFTA renegotiations. 

Kevin Ellis, CEO of CMI, said Canada should be "called out" for its dairy trade program. CMI, which is a cooperative of 30 local dairy farmers and employs over 70 people, has felt the repercussions of Canada's 270-percent tariff on milk, among other newer regulations.

"I applaud Sen. Schumer for standing up for dairy men in the state," Ellis said.

Auburn Mayor Michael Quill said Schumer has been helpful for the city and Cayuga County on many topics, from helping dairy farmers to helping Owasco Lake.

"I really believe that central New York, and more specifically Auburn and Cayuga County, have a special place in his (Schumer's) heart," Quill said. 

Staff writer Gwendolyn Craig can be reached at (315) 282-2237 or gwendolyn.craig@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter @gwendolynnn1.

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County Government Reporter