posted on February 18, 2013 12:51
The future of one of Batavia’s top employers rests on fair play by our by our neighbors to the north.
U.S. Senator Charles Schumer was in Batavia today to lend his political clout to efforts that would keep Canada from imposing tighter restrictions on milk imports.
“Western New York’s dairy farmers continue to drive a booming industry, but unnecessary tariffs and barriers to trade with Canada and other countries threaten to curb their ability to compete and grow in the international market,” said Schumer. “In light of recently discussed limits on the amount of milk products that could be imported to Canada from companies like O-AT-KA, I am urging the USDA and the USTR to ensure that avoiding these restrictions is a top priority in ongoing trade discussions. I’m also urging that other existing barriers imposed by countries like New Zealand be removed. The federal government must focus on every opportunity for our dairy and Greek yogurt producers to grow and compete, and given that the dairy industry is becoming more and more reliant on the growing global market, a level playing field is essential.”
Specifically, Schumer said the success of O-AT-KA’s $16 million expansion in Batavia could be thwarted.
“When a company like O-AT-KA makes the business decision to expand like this," he said, "they’re counting on having access to markets outside our own, and one of them is Canada. Rolling back trade access could rip the rug right out from under O-AT-KA’s grand plans.”
Right now, O-AT-KA’s Canadian business represents only 5-percent of its sales but it is an important part of its future growth.
O-AT-KA employs 300 people at its Batavia facility, 14 of those jobs were created by the expansion.