Trade war with China has heavy impact on local dairy farmers

It took Kevin Ellis more than two years to navigate China’s trade barriers and win approval to export $25 million worth of dairy products from Central New York to the world’s most populous nation.

His persistence paid off in June 2018 when China allowed Cayuga Milk Ingredients — a $101 million milk processing plant on the edge of Auburn — to send its first two shipping containers of skim milk powder to Shanghai.

But before the cargo ship arrived, the trade war President Donald Trump started with China hit home in Central New York: The Chinese announced they would impose retaliatory tariffs of 25% to 40% on U.S. dairy exports.

“When the tariffs went in place, we actually had our first shipment on the water,” said Ellis, chief executive officer of Cayuga Milk Ingredients.

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