ALBANY – New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is joining with other American officials who have been slamming Canadian policies that they say will restrict exports of dairy products, costing jobs in New York and other states.
In a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Cuomo on Monday said he is “distressed” to hear of regulatory moves in Canada “that could effectively block” the sale of some New York milk exports.
At issue are rules pressed in Ontario and possibly throughout Canada affecting imports of milk proteins, or ultra-filtered milk, used in an array of products from sugar-free ice cream to yogurt and cheese. The months’ long and simmering cross-border battle between Canada and milk-producing states in the United States has been fueled, in part, by falling global milk prices putting pressure on farmers and dairy processors. The issue has been raised in recent months by everyone from Democratic U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer of New York to Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
On Monday, Cuomo said moves in Canada to restrict the milk protein sales from New York risks a violation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. “I urge our Canadian neighbors to reconsider these potentially harmful regulations and to continue our courteous, mutually beneficial trade relations,’’ Cuomo said in a statement.
Canadian milk producers and farmers, led by the Dairy Farmers of Canada, say imports of less costly milk proteins often come from heavily subsidized companies that are able to both get around Canadian ingredient rules for the making of cheese and dig into revenues of domestic farmers there.
In his letter to Trudeau, Cuomo said he understands the global milk industry is going through a period of transition. “However, by no means does this make it acceptable for Canada to flout international trade agreements and devise strategies that unfairly harm a key export from New York,’’ Cuomo wrote.
Cuomo, who had a much-publicized fight with Canadian officials in 2012 over matters pertaining to the Peace Bridge, told Trudeau that he needs to personally “stress the importance” of cross-border trade relations to a Canadian milk supply and management board.
Canadian officials did not immediately respond to Cuomo’s letter.