Senator Kirsten Gillibrand says it’s time for the president to act to protect the state’s dairy farmers. Between dropping milk prices, unfair Canadian trade practices, and the escalation of trade wars with many US trading partners, Gillibrand says dairy farmers in New York and nationwide are finding themselves unable to stay afloat.
As a countermeasure, she is calling upon the federal government to immediately release the $127 million authorized in emergency aid for dairy farmers.
"The reason for the delay for the other commodities is because they want to see how it finishes the growing season and they want to get those goods to market to see what happens," Gillibrand said. "Whereas dairy is produced everyday. They know the cost of production per day. They know how much their losing."
The senator is also asking the president to consider dairy farmers going into NAFTA renegotiations. Currently, Canadian trade practices heavily favor their own dairy producers, to the detriment of American dairy farmers who rely on the Northern market.
"The administration needs to make sure that in the new deal Canada is subsidizing their own dairy farmers and that they finally get rid of their quotas on American milk that can be imported into the country," Gillibrand said. "Whatever the final trade deal with Canada looks like, we have to make sure that it protects our dairy farmers, and I'm not going to support anything less."
President Trump has thus far seemed unreceptive to suggestion. In a tweet on September 1st, he threatened that congressional interference in NAFTA negotiations would result in his simply terminating the trade agreement entirely. Gillibrand says she is not interfering, simply informing the president of the needs of the dairy industry.
"I think raising the voices of our dairy farmers so the President can be more informed is an important part of Congress's job," Gillibrand said. "The two letters that I've written to this administration I think will help him understand why this money is needed now. I've been asking, up until now, for $300 million for dairy which is the amount the Ag Secretary gave to cotton, which is a tenth of the size of the dairy industry in the United States."
NAFTA renegotiations will continue this week with Mexico and Canada, having missed the August 31st deadline.