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April 27, 2018 - 3:09pm
Press release:
 
U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Charles E. Schumer announced today that he is working directly with Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) and Senator Tammy Baldwin(D-WI) to urge U.S. trade officials to secure a level playing field with Canadian producers during the renegotiation of the North American Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
 
According to Schumer, in recent years, Canada has established dairy pricing policies and has maintained high tariffs that have effectively created a “Dairy Wall” stopping most U.S. dairy products from accessing Canadian markets and distorting global trade. Dairy farmers and producers, like O-AT-KA Milk Products Cooperative Inc. in Batavia, Cayuga Milk Ingredients in Cayuga County and dairy producers in Wisconsin, have been severely hurt by Canada’s manipulative trade practices and it will only get worse without action.
 
Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) from Wisconsin has also been a leader on lowering Canada’s dairy trade barriers, working closely with Senator Schumer.
 
“With Speaker Ryan’s and Senator Baldwin’s help, we now have a real opportunity to churn the tide and hopefully fix the unfair Canadian dairy trade barriers that have plagued dairy farmers and producers from the Finger-Lakes to Central New York to Wisconsin,” said Senate Democratic Leader Schumer.
 
“Our hardworking New York dairy farmers and producers across Upstate New York are the most competitive in the world, but they depend on stable and fair rules to compete in a global economy, to sell their dairy products, expand their business and create new local jobs – and right now, for dairy, Canada is erecting unfair barriers and not playing by the rules and the current NAFTA renegotiation must be used to rectify that.”
 
Schumer explained Canada has an unfair advantage over New York dairy farmers and producers. In addition to Canada’s 270 percent tariff on milk, a program called the “Class 7” pricing program, a market-distorting supply management system, has caused severe pain to New York dairy producers since it came into force last year.
 
In fact, Canada has used the Class 7 program to triple its milk powder exports in the past year by creating excess milk production capacity within Canada, then dumping the resulting milk powder onto world markets. To further prove this dumping exists, Schumer added that Canada’s dairy farmers are some of the highest paid in the world, yet Canadian dairy companies are still able to be among the lowest cost sellers of Class 7 products globally.
 
As U.S., Canadian and Mexican trade officials are closing in on a deal to revamp North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Schumer said working with Senator Baldwin and Speaker Ryan – who represents many dairy farmers and producers in their own state, represents a real opportunity to finally dismantle Canada’s market-distorting policies and ensure a level playing field for American dairy farmers and producers.
 
Schumer continued: “As trade officials near a deal to renegotiate NAFTA – a bipartisan issue President Trump, Senator Baldwin, Speaker Ryan and I agree on – we must make it a top priority to begin reversing restrictive dairy pricing policies in Canada that are hurting our dairy producers at their core, and now is a real opportunity to do just that.”
 
Schumer said that he has directly stressed the importance of securing meaningful changes in our dairy trade relationship with Canada to past and current administration officials, including President Trump, current United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Canadian Ambassador to the U.S. David MacNaughton, and the U.S. Ambassador to Canada Kelly Craft -- who have all committed to address this issue.
April 25, 2018 - 4:37pm
posted by Billie Owens in O-AT-KA, batavia, news, business, NHRA.

Press release:

O-AT-KA Milk Products is proud to announce that Donna Maxwell, vice president of Human Resources, was presented with the prestigious HR Executive of the Year Award by the Rochester Affiliate of the National Human Resources Association (NHRA).

Maxwell was honored at the NHRA’s fifth annual awards ceremony on Tuesday, April 18th, at Locust Hill Country Club in Pittsford.

The award recognizes exceptional leadership in innovation and operational excellence. Nominated along with four of her peers in the region, Maxwell was selected for her exemplary leadership in organizational development.

She was also presented with the Transformational Business Partnership Award in recognition of outcomes achieved in labor relations management.

“To be effective as a leader it takes courage; strength of character; intellectual honesty; the ability to build trust; integrity; experience and wisdom,” said Bill Schreiber, CEO of O-AT-KA. “These are all personal characteristics that Donna Maxwell brings to the job each and every day. She never mails it in.”

Maxwell has had responsibility for Human Resources and Technology strategy for O-AT- KA Milk Products for the past three years. During that time she has driven the company to a new and sustainable technology vision that includes mobile technology and remote functionality in a manufacturing environment.

She has solidified O-AT-KA’s position as an employer of choice with the renegotiation of cost effective, best-in-class employee benefit options.

For information about working at O-AT-KA and to view open positions, visit www.oatkamilk.com/careers.

April 23, 2018 - 4:26pm

Press release:

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer today called on U.S. trade officials to secure a level playing field with Canadian producers during the renegotiation of the North American Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Schumer said that in recent years, Canada has established dairy pricing policies and has maintained high tariffs that have effectively created a “Dairy Wall” stopping most U.S. dairy products from accessing Canadian markets and distorting global trade.

Dairy farmers and producers, like the 340 dairy farmers who make up Upstate Niagara Co-Op, which supplies O-AT-KA Milk Products Cooperative Inc. in Batavia, have been severely hurt by Canada’s manipulative trade practices and it will only get worse without action.

O-AT-KA Milk Products Cooperative Inc., with more than 400 employees and majority owned by Upstate Niagara, has already lost millions of dollars in contracts due to Canada’s actions “Dairy Wall.”

Schumer said that the time to secure a level playing field with Canada by expanding market opportunities and eliminating Canada’s unfair pricing policies – is now and we cannot let this opportunity go to waste.

“Our hardworking New York dairy farmers and producers like Upstate Niagara Co-Op’s 340 farm family members across the Finger Lakes and O-AT-KA Milk Products in Batavia are the most competitive in the world, but they depend on stable and fair rules to compete in a global economy, to sell their dairy products, expand their business and create new local jobs,” Schumer said.

“As trade officials near a deal to renegotiate NAFTA – an issue President Trump and I both agree on – we must make it a top priority to begin reversing restrictive dairy pricing policies in Canada that are hurting our dairy producers at their core, and now is a real opportunity to do just that.”

Schumer explained Canada has an unfair advantage over New York dairy farmers and producers. In addition to Canada’s 270 percent tariff on milk, a program called the “Class 7” pricing program, a market-distorting supply management system, has caused severe pain to New York dairy producers like Avon’s Anderson Farm and their fellow Upstate Niagara Co-Op dairies since it came into force last year.

In fact, Canada has used the Class 7 program to triple its milk powder exports in the past year by creating excess milk production capacity within Canada, then dumping the resulting milk powder onto world markets. To further prove this dumping exists, Schumer added that Canada’s dairy farmers are some of the highest paid in the world, yet Canadian dairy companies are still able to be among the lowest cost sellers of Class 7 products globally.

Anderson Farm is one of the 340 dairy farm members of the Upstate Niagara Co-Op, which is the majority owner of the O-AT-KA Milk Products facility in Batavia. More than 400 employees work at O-AT-KA. Upstate Niagara dairies throughout the Rochester Finger Lakes Region like Anderson Farm depend on O-AT-KA to purchase their milk to then manufacture and sell milk products for the domestic and international markets.

Since Canada’s implementation of Class 7, O-AT-KA lost $19 million in annual sales of Ultra Filtered milk (UF Milk), a product used to make cheese and other dairy products that it had been exporting into Canada. Moreover, the production of this UF milk for the Canadian market had accounted for 20 percent (about 180 million pounds) of all of O-AT-KA’s milk volume.

This severely undercut a $16 million investment made by O-AT-KA in 2012 to build a two-story addition at its Batavia plant to manufacture UF Milk to support its export business to Canada. When Canada unfairly cut off UF Milk imports and implemented Class 7, it dealt a significant blow to the local agriculture economy and was a factor in the current U.S. milk inventory imbalance that is contributing to now drive the price of milk down.

Schumer was joined by Jim Anderson, fourth generation owner of Anderson Farm, O-AT-KA Milk Products Cooperative Inc. President & Chairman John Gould, local dairy farmers, and elected officials.

Gould, who also owns an Upstate Niagara Co-Op dairy farm in Genesee County, said “Canada has a long history of erecting barriers to trade when it comes to dairy and the creation of Class 7 is an example of that. Canada's Class 7 market manipulation has caused harm to O-AT-KA Milk Products and their farm family owners, whose investments in serving legitimate customers in Canada have been blocked.

"As NAFTA is renegotiated, it is time that Canadian gamesmanship ends and a constructive agreement is reached that allows market participation and access under rules that all trading partners can follow. We thank Senator Schumer for his leadership and work in keeping this important issue top of mind as negotiations proceed."

As U.S., Canadian and Mexican trade officials are closing in on a deal to revamp North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Schumer said now represents a real opportunity to dismantle Canada’s market-distorting policies and ensure a level playing field for American dairy farmers and producers.

Schumer noted that he has directly stressed the importance of securing meaningful changes in our dairy trade relationship with Canada to past and current administration officials, including current United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, President Trump, Canadian Ambassador to the U.S. David MacNaughton, and the U.S. Ambassador to Canada Kelly Craft who have all committed to address this issue.

Right now, products manufactured by O-AT-KA Milk Products include non-fat dry milk powder, buttermilk powder, whey powder, canned evaporated milk, butter, fluid condensed milk, iced coffee, nutritional beverages and other various drinks.

O-AT-KA has gross annual sales of more than $300 million and is a significant employer and economic development engine in Upstate NY’s dairy and manufacturing industries. Schumer said that in order for Upstate Niagara member dairies and O-AT-KA to continue to be global leaders, Canada’s rapacious dairy-related trade policies need to be addressed and that NAFTA represents a major opportunity to do so.

Here's Schumer's letter to Ambassador Robert Lighthizer, United States Trade Representative:

Dear Ambassador Lighthizer:

As the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiations come towards a conclusion, I would like to again emphasize the importance of securing meaningful concessions from Canada to provide stable market access for our dairy producers. Securing meaningful and enforceable commitments that will allow U.S. dairy producers to compete with Canada’s on a level playing field should be a top priority in NAFTA renegotiations. As I have expressed to you many times, I strongly believe that we should not miss this opportunity to protect our dairy producers from Canada’s recent predatory trade practices.

As you know, Canada’s Class 7 pricing program, a market-distorting supply management system, has caused severe pain to New York dairy producers since it came into force last year. Canada has also maintained large tariffs on dairy products, including a 270 percent tariff on milk. New York’s dairy farmers and companies like Cayuga Milk Ingredients, O-AT-KA Milk, and Ideal Dairy Farm, rely on market-based trade with Canada for a significant percentage – millions of dollars – of their revenue. Not only are New York’s producers locked out of Canada’s ultrafiltered milk market, but in just a year’s time, Canada has used its Class 7 program to triple its milk powder exports, dumping powdered milk products into global markets and undercutting New York dairy producer’s exports. This Class 7 system is likely a violation of Canada’s World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments, but addressing it quickly through NAFTA renegotiation is needed, rather than waiting for years for a WTO determination. This Class 7 system should be dismantled through new NAFTA commitments.

In our discussions, you have committed to me that you would prioritize addressing this issue through NAFTA renegotiations. The President has also privately expressed to me his explicit desire to address this issue and has publically emphasized, many times, the unfair way that Canada has treated our dairy producers, noting just last month: “Canada must treat our farmers much better. Highly restrictive.”

Our hard working dairy producers are the most competitive in the world, but they depend on stable and fair rules to compete in a global economy. Again, I urge you to make meaningful and enforceable commitments that level the playing field for our dairy producers a top priority as NAFTA renegotiations conclude.

Thank you for your attention to this issue.

August 3, 2017 - 1:46pm

Press release:

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer yesterday (Aug. 2) called Canadian Ambassador Nominee Kelly Knight-Craft and strongly urged her to work with Canadian officials to persuade them to reverse the protectionist and restrictive trade policies that are currently harming the Upstate New York milk industry and farmers.

Schumer explained that the Province of Ontario and Canada’s federal government have adopted restrictive measures on the importation of milk products. These measures will cost tens of millions in U.S. dairy contracts. Producers like O-AT-KA Milk in Genesee County, Cayuga Milk Ingredients in Cayuga County and Ideal Dairy Farm in Washington County have all been harmed, he says.

Schumer said these policies are blatant violations of existing fair trade agreements with Canada. Schumer said this is an affront to current U.S.-Canadian trade agreements, and therefore urged Ms. Craft to push Canada reverse these unfair policies and work with the United States to keep current dairy trade agreements strong. 

“Canada’s restrictive dairy trade and pricing policies are blatantly violating our trade agreements signed by the U.S. and Canada, and they are hurting New York’s dairy producers who simply want to deal fairly with our Canadian partners," Schumer said. "That’s why I called the Canadian Ambassador Nominee and I urged her to push Canada to end these unfair policies and work with the U.S. to keep both of our dairy industries strong.

"These kinds of policies put our dairy farmers in grave jeopardy. Our New York dairy producers work hard every day to provide for their families and export quality products to the world – and they deserve to know that everyone’s competing on a level playing field.”

Schumer has long fought to protect the Upstate NY dairy industry and milk producers across the state. In September, Schumer urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Secretary Vilsack and the U.S. Ambassador to Canada, Bruce Heyman, to continue to pressure Canada to end these unfair policies.

The senator said it is critical that the federal government protects the Upstate NY dairy industry, and that these protectionist trade policies should not be allowed to continually impair the value of fair trade provisions the U.S. previously secured under our prior trade agreements.

In the Spring of 2016, Schumer visited O-AT-KA Milk, Cayuga Milk Ingredients and Ideal Farm as he urged the USDA and the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), Michael Froman, to protect Upstate New York’s dairy sector from the then-proposed barriers to trade. Following that push, Schumer again urged these two federal agencies to ramp up all available resources to investigate new Canadian dairy trade policies that could hurt dairy farmers in Upstate NY.

The Canadian province of Ontario has already imposed limitations on American imports and recently Canada’s national government put out a proposal to expand these restrictions nationwide.

Schumer said that the Province of Ontario and Canada’s federal pricing policies, are designed to crowd out New York’s dairy sales and discourage Canadian cheesemakers from using imported ultra-filtered milk from the United States in their products. These new pricing policies essentially set the price of Canada’s products below that of New York’s ultra-filtered milk imports, which hurts O-AT-KA and Cayuga’s more efficiently produced ultra-filtered milk.

Schumer explained that Canada’s National Ingredients Strategy for dairy takes a similar approach to Ontario’s new Class VI pricing policy by incentivizing Canadian processors to shift away from using dairy imports from the U.S. Upstate New York producers have invested millions in order to be able to export to Canada because they have long enjoyed duty-free access for this specific product under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Schumer said these Canadian trade barriers have already started to hinder development and growth of the Upstate NY dairy industry. Companies like O-AT-KA and Cayuga Milk Ingredients, along with Ideal Dairy Farm, rely on trade with Canada for a significant percentage – millions of dollars – of their revenue.

As the country’s third largest milk producing state, a significant impact on New York’s ability to tap into key foreign markets could also impact farmers in surrounding states. Therefore, Schumer said, any reductions in export sales could impact NY dairy manufacturers and their supplying farms, which are already struggling with depressed milk prices.

March 25, 2016 - 3:50pm
posted by Billie Owens in agriculture, dairy, business, O-AT-KA, news.

(Photos by Jim Burns.)

A Canadian proposal to reduce the amount of milk products imported from the United States, and to impose a tariff, could have perilous financial consequences for Western New York dairy farmers and cooperatives such as O-AT-KA in Batavia, which exports 20 percent of its goods to Canada annually.

At a press conference this morning in the plant's cafeteria off Cedar Street, Sen. Charles Schumer vowed to bring all his clout -- built over 18 years in the Senate -- to bear to stop the limitations being put forth by the nation's trade ministry in conjuction with its agriculture department under new government leadership.

Last year, U.S. dairies produced 200 billion pounds of milk; 85 percent of that was consumed by Americans and 15 percent was exported, said O-AT-KA CEO Bill Schreiber.

"Canada's trying to put in a new rule that would be devastating to O-AT-KA and Western New York," Schumer told the media, union employees, dairy farmers and local officials in attendance. "That ultra-filtered milk came in duty-free. Now they're trying to change that. ...  and the Province of Ontario wants to keep out (U.S.) dairy sales."

For O-AT-KA, the restrictions would amount to a loss of 180 million pounds of annual milk production -- which is 20 percent of $95 million in yearly sales, or $19 million, according to Schreiber. 

WIth more than 350 employees, the facility is one of the largest employers in the Genesee County. Upstate Niagara Cooperative, made up of nearly 400 dairies, is the majority owner of O-AT-KA.

WNY dairies are poised for growth, despite recent declines in milk pricing -- from $25 per hundredweight (the name of the commodity pricing unit) to $15 currently.

In 2012, O-AT-KA invested $16 million to build a new two-story addition to allow "ultra-filtration" capabilities in order to expand its product line and boost sales to other producers in the United States and abroad, especially Canada. Products include non-fat dry milk powder, buttermilk powder, whey powder, canned evaporated milk, butter, fluid condensed milk, iced coffee, nutritional beverages and other drinks. Ultra-filtered milk is used in cheese making.

Schumer said the recently proposed Canadian trade barriers could hinder plans for growth.

"We have good neighbors in Canada, but every so often something happens," the senator said. "This proposal would bring our mutual agreement to a screeching halt. It would put O-AT-KA and New York's dairy farmers in grave jeopardy. It would imperil the whole Upstate economy."

When asked "Is there really anything you can do?" if another nation, like Canada, implements a trade rule you don't like, Schumer replied: "Yes, a big leverage is tariffs. It's not a one-way street. It's not just exporting to Canada; we import from Canada, too."

It boils down to the fact that "we just have a stronger dairy industry and they're trying to build their's."

The rules, if implemented, would take effect in about six months.

"I'm here to go to bat for you," Schumer said. "I'm going to send a shot across the bough."

Schumer is calling on the U.S. Trade Representives and the USDA to work to protect U.S. dairy exports by ensuring that Canada doesn’t impose restrictive trade rules and honors its commitment to open borders to Upstate New York farmers.

The proposal to limit U.S. dairy imports comes on the heels of the "Trans-Pacific Partnership," referred to commonly as TPP, being signed in New Zealand last month after seven years of negotiations. Besides New Zealand, it is made up of Canada and 10 other Pacific Rim countries, including the United States, Australia, Vietnam, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Chile, Mexico and Peru. Ratification is anticipated over the next two years.

According to the Toronto Sun (Feb. 4. 2016), the pact could impact many industries in Canada, including agriculture, and some opponents fear it could hurt the economy and result in layoffs in some sectors. As part of the deal, Canadian dairy farms are slated to get $4.3 billion in subsidies from their government over a span of 15 years to offset losses from an increase in dairy imports from TPP trading partners.

Schumer made it clear that he opposes big trade agreements like TPP, just as he opposed and voted against NAFTA during the Clinton Administration.

Here's a copy of Schumer’s letter to both the USTR and USDA:

Dear Ambassador Froman and Secretary Vilsack:

I write to you with strong concerns about reports that Canada is weighing policy and regulatory shifts that would undermine one of New York’s most important export markets. Just a few years ago, two dairy companies made investments worth tens of millions of dollars in Upstate New York to produce ultra-filtered milk specifically for export to the Canadian cheese market. These sales are possible as a result of the duty-free access for this specific product that Canada agreed to under the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Recent reports indicate that Canada is considering administrative actions to limit Canadian companies’ capacity to use this product in further processing and that Ontario is advancing a new, targeted pricing policy designed to crowd out New York’s dairy sales. Further restraints on dairy trade are unacceptable, particularly coming on the heels of Canada’s recent pledge to expand access to its tightly restricted dairy market under TPP. 

New York has made sizable investments in exporting into Canada under specific rules laid out by the Canadian government. Those sales now help support dairy farmers and rural communities across the state. New Canadian barriers to market access would have an outsized impact on New York’s dairy sector. As the country’s third largest milk producing state, a significant impact on New York’s ability to tap into key foreign markets also will impact farmers in surrounding states in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region. Moreover, this latest example of dairy market-access restrictions appears to represent a continuation of persistent Canadian regulatory and policy shifts aimed directly at impeding dairy trade. 

We must hold Canada to its commitments and ensure that our exporters do not encounter barriers to the products they are already shipping to Canada. I urge you to strongly reject this and similar efforts to impair the value of concessions the U.S. previously secured under NAFTA. Thank you for your attention to this important priority with one of this country’s largest trading partners.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator

May 14, 2008 - 1:11pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in news, politics, crime, Daily News, headlines, O-AT-KA.

From the Daily News (Wednesday):

• Randall J. Peterson, 22, of Rochester was sentenced to 12 years in state prison Tuesday in Genesee County Court. Peterson was one of four men involved in the shooting death of 23-year-old Desean Gooch in October, 2006. He pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery.

• Reporter Roger Muehlig writes: "Genesee County's Republican Committee is set to endorse Stephen M. Hawley for re-election to the state Assembly this year." The committee meets Thursday night. Hawley has already served one two-year term in the 139th District.

• Construction has begun on the Lowe's home improvement store off Veterans Memorial Drive in Batavia. Representatives have said they do not know when it will be finished. The nearby Target should be completed by July.

• Officials with Creamy Creation and O-AT-KA Milk Products dedicated the new Creamy Creation's 5,000-square-foot facility in Batavia Tuesday. Reporter Matt Surtel writes: "Creamy Creation is part of the Netherlands-based Campina, which is one of Europe's largest dairy cooperatives. The company was started in 1979, and moved its U.S. office from Wisconsin to Batavia in 1999." Creamy Creations produces creme liqueurs and nutritional beverages, among other products.

• Reporter Scott DeSmit writes: "Phillip E. Kroft Jr., 20, was charged with first-degree robbery, criminal possession of a weapon and petit larceny, police Detective Todd Crossett said. Kroft is accused of stealing a cell phone from a woman ... in the early summer of last year." When the woman tried to get her phone back, Kroft allegedly punched her in the stomach, wearing brass knuckles, police told DeSmit. Kroft also faces unrelated charges of rape.

For the complete stories, the Daily News is available on local newsstands, or you can subscribe on BataviaNews.com.

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