Hoeven Organizes Meetings for Potato Growers with U.S. Trade Officials to Address Canadian Imports

Senator Outlines Trade Assistance for Potato Producers, Advancing ITC Study on Economic Impacts of Potato Imports from Canada

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee and a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and the farm bill conference committee, this week met with the Northern Plains Potato Growers to review ongoing issues with imported produce from Canada, as well as efforts to provide assistance to farmers and ranchers while the administration works to resolve trade negotiations as soon as possible. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently rolled out the first half of its trade assistance for agriculture producers, which includes $44.5 million in aid for potato growers under the food purchase and distribution program. Hoeven also included Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts in his meeting with the commodity group to discuss progress on passing a strong farm bill. 

Further, Hoeven organized meetings between the Potato Growers and the administration, including with the USDA, the U.S. Department of Commerce, Deputy Ambassador Gregg Doud, who serves as the Chief Agricultural Negotiator at the U.S. Trade Representative, and the International Trade Commission (ITC). Following the group’s visit, Hoeven will work with the ITC and the Senate Finance Committee to advance a study of the economic impacts of Canadian imports on the nation’s potato producers.

“Unfair treatment from our trading partners is exactly what we are trying to resolve through these trade negotiations,” said Hoeven. “The meetings we arranged allowed potato growers from our state to inform the administration firsthand on the issues with Canadian imports they are trying to overcome. We will continue working on their behalf to ensure our producers have a level playing field in the global marketplace. In the meantime, we continue working to pass a strong farm bill as soon as possible and the administration has begun rolling out the first half of its trade assistance to help farmers recover from retaliatory tariffs.”

This week’s meetings build on a roundtable Hoeven held with the Northern Plains Potato Growers, other commodity groups, local producers and Commodity Futures Trading Commissioner Brian Quintez in North Dakota earlier this month. These efforts come as part of Hoeven’s work to ensure access to valuable export markets for the nation’s farmers and ranchers, while also mitigating the impact of retaliatory tariffs. 

Earlier this week, the administration announced that it had reached a preliminary agreement with Mexico on central aspects of a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiation. That same day, the USDA began implementing the first half of its trade assistance for agriculture producers. This includes three parts:

  • Market Facilitation Program – Producers will be eligible to receive payments up to $125,000 aggregate. The payments will be distributed based on 50 percent of 2018 production for the first half of the aid program. Producers can sign up at their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office.
  • Food Purchase and Distribution Program – Surplus commodities, including edible beans, potatoes and pulse crops, will be purchased for distribution to food programs and food banks. 
  • Ag Trade Promotion – The program will work with the private sector to develop new trade markets.

The assistance is based on the USDA’s trade retaliation models and the estimated impact of retaliation on each of the commodities. The remaining half of the program will be announced later and adjustments will be made based upon actual losses.