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Article

Wisconsin, New York Join Calls for Canada to Honor Trade Commitments

Apr 12, 2017
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI)

Top agriculture officials in Wisconsin and New York last week called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help dairy farmers in their states who have lost a market for their milk as a result of Canada’s recent actions to block ultra-filtered milk from U.S. producers. The state officials join IDFA and others in the U.S. dairy industry in calling on the Trump administration to fight back against protectionist Canadian trade policies that are slamming the door to American dairy exports in violation of existing trade commitments between the two nations.

Just today, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) sent a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Acting U.S. Trade Representative Stephen Vaughn and Acting U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Michael Young regarding their concerns about recent actions by Canada that are restricting American milk exports to the Canadian market. The letter was cosigned by the entire Wisconsin Congressional delegation.

“Exports are critical to the viability of Wisconsin’s dairy farms. These families rely on them for their very livelihood,” said Ryan. “I am encouraged by this bipartisan effort and will continue to work with my colleagues and impacted stakeholders to break down these trade barriers and reach a practical solution.” 

State Officials Ask USDA to Help

Ben Brancel, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, and Richard Ball, commissioner of the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets, urged USDA to help producers by exercising its authority to purchase cheese and butter in storage and distribute it through USDA's nutritional aid programs, including food banks and the national school feeding programs.

Canada recently informed major Wisconsin and New York processors that they will no longer have a market for ultra-filtered milk.  In Wisconsin this action affects about 75 farmers, leaving them with no buyer for about one million pounds of their daily milk production as of May 1.

"If these multi-generational farm families cannot find another market for their milk, they will be forced to sell their cows and go out of business," Brancel said.

“The U.S. dairy industry is united on this issue because these restrictive policies effectively bar a significant U.S. export to Canada, with total losses estimated to hit $150 million worth of ultra-filtered milk exports from Wisconsin and New York. As we feared, these policies are now prohibiting our nation’s dairy processors from accessing the Canadian market,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO of IDFA.

“IDFA is speaking out against Canada’s protectionist policies on Capitol Hill, and asking the Trump Administration and state governors and legislators to insist that Canada honor its trade commitments and allow more market access for U.S. dairy products,” he added.

Wisconsin

Wisconsin is home to 9,236 dairy farms, more than any other state in the country with 1.28 million cows, and 96 percent are family-owned, with an average number of 138 cows per farm.  Dairy is the largest segment of Wisconsin agriculture; of the $88.3 billion economic impact of agriculture, $43.4 billion is generated by the dairy industry, including 78,900 jobs.

New York

New York exports more to Canada than to any other country in the world. Last year, the bilateral trade relationship totaled $32.93 billion in goods and supported over 500,000 jobs regionally. New York's dairy industry is the state's largest agricultural sector having almost 5,000 family-run farms that are home to more than 618,000 cows, resulting in an average of 128 cows per farm. In 2015, the dairy community brought in $2.5 billion in sales and employed close to 20,000 people.

USDA is authorized under Section 32 of the Agriculture Act of 1935 to support agricultural producers by purchasing surplus commodities for food banks and nutrition assistance programs, such as the national school lunch program.

For more information, contact Beth Hughes, IDFA director of international affairs, at bhughes@idfa.org.