CALGARY, AB: The Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association are concerned with respect to the open wheat market and cross-border trade with the United States, and we call on the Government of Canada to take action to harmonize regulations and ensure the free flow of wheat between Canada and the United States.
A United States Senator moved a resolution this week with respect to ‘Supporting fair and equitable grading treatment for exports of United States wheat products to Canada’, which has now been referred to the Committee on Finance. If not remedied, the action suggested in the resolution would be devastating to Canadian wheat farmers and the broader agriculture sector.
In February 2017, the Wheat Growers and U.S. Wheat Associates published an op-ed on this issue, where we cited how we are ‘working together to urge the House of Commons to address open, cross-border wheat trade, and we support updating the law to ensure wheat is treated consistently on both sides of the border.’
In September 2016, our groups, along with the National Association of Wheat Growers, sent a letter to the federal Minister of Agriculture and Minister of International Trade—sharing the letter with the four western provincial agriculture ministers—where we recommended ‘the topic of cross-border wheat trade for consideration in an upcoming session of the House of Commons’.
In April 2016, the Wheat Growers and U.S. Wheat Associates wrote to the Pacific Northwest Economic Region and shared our letter with the Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC) and the Privy Council Office (PCO), recommending they work to address this trade disparity. We cited how Canadian and American wheat grower organizations have both ‘long supported an open market and equalization of trade, which includes greater alignment and a more standardized environment for North American wheat.’ We further referenced how freer trade benefits farmers, the wheat value chain, and consumers, and we encouraged the RCC to work to harmonize and ensure regulatory cooperation on this key issue, as per the RCC mandate.
While there are a number of issues we need to address in Canada with respect to the modernization of our grain grading system and the Canada Grain Act, a few positive first steps were laid out in Bill C-48 in the 41st Parliament, including working to resolve the immediate issue of fair wheat grading practices for U.S. wheat imports coming into Canada.
This U.S. Senate resolution comes during NAFTA-dominated headlines of the past few days (and weeks), including tariffs being slapped on lumber exports, heated rhetoric on the dairy sector, and talk of withdrawing from, if not significantly re-negotiating, NAFTA. We appreciate Prime Minister Trudeau taking the trade file seriously and working to emphasize the importance of NAFTA with President Trump this week. The issue of the cross-border wheat trade is not new, there are options to remedy the irritant, and we call on the Government of Canada to move on this key issue and ensure the free flow of wheat between Canada and the U.S.
About the Wheat Growers:
Founded in 1970, the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association is a voluntary farmer-run advocacy organization dedicated to developing public policy solutions that strengthen the profitability and sustainability of farming, and the agricultural industry as a whole. For more information, please visit wheatgrowers.ca.