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Schumer calls for an end to Canadian program hurting upstate dairy farmers

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media
Sen. Charles Schumer at Cayuga Milk Ingredients.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) said Monday that now is the time to get Canada to end a program hurting upstate’s dairy industry, as President Donald Trump's administration renegotiates the North American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA.

Canada’s dairy pricing program and high tariffs have reduced upstate’s milk exports.

Bill Morgan is a dairy farmer and the chairman of the board for Cayuga Milk Ingredients in Auburn, which produces powdered milk. He said they lost $30 million in sales when Canada implemented their pricing program last year.

“There’s dairy farmers all across the state that are losing their jobs as we speak,” Morgan said.

Schumer accused Canada of creating a market distorting system, that tripled Canada’s milk exports.

“Canada, when it comes to dairy, acts like China when it comes to trade," Schumer said. "They’re unfair. They put up barriers. They treat us bad.”

But Schumer said he has brought up the issue to President Trump, the U.S. trade representative, and some Canadian ministers and companies who all seem willing to enact change.

“We want to just go back to the way it was," Schumer said. "When we sent powdered milk to Canada, it was of good quality and of a good price. Canada bought a whole lot of it. But their dairy farmers couldn't compete with ours. What Canada did is set up this predatory pricing, which not only hurts our exports to Canada, but when they're trying to export to France or the Philippines or some other place, Canada's predatory pricing allows Canada to unfairly undercut our prices, so it hurts across the board."    

Schumer said he wants support from House Speaker Paul Ryan on the issue, whose state of Wisconsin has also been negatively affected by the Canadian dairy pricing.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.