NEW YORK, NY - Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Monday his opposition to proposed regulations that would create a barrier for state dairy farmers exporting a key agricultural product to Canada.
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If proposed provincial standards are implemented across Canada, they could result in a $50 million market loss for New York's dairy industry, according to a media release.
A local dairy official stressed the importance of Cuomo’s actions, especially at a time when dairy prices are relatively low.
They come in direct response to the province of Ontario and the Canadian Milk Supply Management Committee’s regulatory plans, which include the Ontario Class 6 regulation and the proposed establishment of a new national ingredient strategy that could effectively restrict New York exports of ultra-filtered milk, according to the media release.
Such milk is a protein-rich type of skim milk and is primarily used in the production of cheese and yogurt.
The letter calls on the Canadian government to confirm that Ontario’s Class 6 regulations and the Canadian national ingredients strategy are both consistent with existing World Trade Organization policies and the North American Free Trade Agreement.
The proposed change couldn’t come at a worse time for the dairy industry, because there’s already too much milk in the marketplace, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Delaware County educator Mariane Kiraly said on Monday.
“We have a much more deregulated market,” and with New York's proximity to Canada and the cost of shipping the milk elsewhere, “it will hurt,” if the changes are enacted, she said.
Cuomo said, "New York's dairy sector is an essential part of our agricultural industry, and these regulations could have devastating effects on our dairy farmers and their families. I urge our Canadian neighbors to reconsider these potentially harmful regulations and to continue our courteous, mutually beneficial trade relations."
Cuomo’s letter coincided with the 25th Tri-National Agricultural Accord, held last week in the city of Niagara Falls in Ontario, Canada.
The Accord provides a forum for the United States, Canada and Mexico to work together toward shared priorities and discuss important topics, including climate change, trade and the expansion of food processing sectors.
Over the course of the last several months, New York has made several attempts to find a solution agreeable to both parties. During a recent visit to Canada, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul raised the concerns with Canadian officials. In August, state Commissioner of Agriculture Richard Ball, a Schoharie County farmer, sent a letter to his counterpart in the province of Ontario, outlining the critical nature of the proposal and its effects on New York. Ball attended the Tri-National Agricultural Accord last week to raise the state's concerns in person.
New York exports more to Canada than to any other country in the world, according to the media release. Last year, the bilateral trade relationship totaled $32.93 billion in goods and supported over 500,000 jobs regionally. The dairy industry is the state’s largest agricultural sector.
With more than 5,000 farms, the majority of which are family-run operations, the dairy industry supports the framework of the agricultural economy, the release said. The dairy community brought in $2.5 billion in sales, and the dairy industry hired almost 20,000 people in New York in 2015. State dairy products also account for at least 50 percent of all of its agricultural commodities exported internationally, according to the release.
New York Farm Bureau President Dean Norton said, "Canada is an important trading partner for New York state and our agricultural community. At a time when low milk prices are threatening the viability of some family farms, any step by Canadian leaders to unfairly restrict the flow of milk into the Ontario province and beyond will have detrimental impacts on farmers and the overall farm economy. We appreciate Governor Cuomo and his administration for raising this issue with the prime minister, and New York Farm Bureau will continue to work with our state and federal leaders to keep milk flowing across the border."
Source The Daily Star
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