WASHINGTON - Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and President Trump have found something in common: An appreciation for American milk.
After months of sparring, the two are joining forces against a new dairy pricing policy in Canada they say is hurting American farmers, according to Schumer's office.
They spoke on Thursday about ways to reverse the policy, which U.S. dairy groups and agriculture officials say violates the North American Free Trade Agreement, blocks certain American dairy exports and enables the dumping of excess Canadian skim milk powder onto the world market. Schumer's spokesman said Trump made the call.
“It is an unwise policy that violates our agreements and hurts our farmers, and we agreed to work together to immediately address the issue,” Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement about his phone call with Trump. “It is critical to level the playing field for our hard-working dairy farmers and make sure our Canadian neighbors rescind their unfair policy and again play by the rules.”
Trump, while in Kenosha, Wis., on Tuesday spoke out against the “very, very unfair policy” that is blocking U.S. exports of ultra-filtered milk, which is used to make cheese. He said he would work with Wisconsin lawmakers and officials to address it.
The next day, Schumer responded with uncharacteristic approbation for the president. "I was very glad that the president made a point of this," he said in an interview with USA TODAY.
Canadian officials reject the idea that their dairy producers and processors’ policies are hurting U.S. farmers, and instead blame global overproduction for U.S. farmers’ financial losses.
The policy began in Ontario and was rolled out in most provinces earlier this year. U.S. officials say it is already impacting companies and farms in Wisconsin and New York — the country’s second and third largest milk producing states, respectively — that rely on trade with Canada for significant revenue. Many farmers are now trying to find a new outlet for their milk by May 1.
In the Wednesday interview, Schumer said he would work with the administration on retaliatory trade actions if Canada doesn’t “come to its senses and back off.”
“There are plenty of things we can do that will put a lot of pressure on Canada,” he said.