Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
Jessica A. Chittenden

November 13, 2007

New York to Canada: Stop Illegal Milk Production

Spitzer Administration Tells President Bush’s Trade Representative to Enforce Fair Trade Agreement

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker last week wrote to United States Trade Representative Susan Schwab to ensure swift and appropriate enforcement of Canadian dairies that refuse to abide by the provisions of NAFTA related to exporting milk. He also wrote to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty to applaud the efforts of the Canadian government in stopping the illegal production of milk, but also to encourage prompt enforcement against those who refuse to comply with Canada’s required supply management system.

In his letter to Schwab, Hooker stated, "While I applaud the current legal efforts by Canadian authorities to stop this illicit milk production, this matter has continued for far too long. In the nearly ten years that have elapsed since the initial complaint, Canadian dairy producers continue to benefit from a system that does not conform to WTO requirements. This situation continues to harm dairy farmers in New York State and across the United States."

In May 2003, the United States and Canada settled a dispute before the World Trade Organization (WTO) that resulted in a requirement that all Canadian dairy producers participate in the milk supply management system as a means of leveling the playing field for all dairy farmers and to insure fair trade between the two countries. A number of dairy producers in Ontario refuse to comply with that requirement and continue to operate outside the system.

Canadian courts have ruled that the production of milk outside of the supply management system violates the law, and presently the Ontario Attorney General is seeking to enjoin the noncompliant producers from further production and sales. After numerous requests by the producers for adjournments, extensions and stays, there was an injunction hearing scheduled today, November 13, 2007.

"While I have the utmost confidence in the Canadian court system, the subject producers have repeatedly engaged in delay and dilatory tactics, ultimately postponing the implementation of the 2003 settlement for more than four years," the Commissioner said. "During that time, FDA has permitted these producers to import milk into the United States, knowing their defiance with WTO requirements."

Canadian milk produced outside of Canada’s milk supply management system has been permitted to enter the U.S. for at least the last five years under a Federal Import Milk Act Permit issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

2007 Press Releases