Hoeven Presses for Fair Treatment of North Dakota Agriculture Exports, and to Get NAFTA Done this Fall

Senator Urges USDA Under Secretary for Trade & Chief Ag Negotiator to Address Canada’s Unfair Treatment of Wheat & Potato Exports & to Include Basis in Trade Assistance

WASHINGTON – During a hearing of the Senate Agriculture Committee this week, Senator John Hoeven urged Ted McKinney, Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Gregg Doud, Deputy Ambassador and Chief Agricultural Negotiator at the U.S. Trade Representative, to address unfair trade practices during the administration’s continued negotiations with Canada. Specifically, Hoeven highlighted the following two issues:

  • Canadian elevators downgrading all imports of U.S. wheat to feed-grade, without regard to the crop’s quality or variety.
  • Restricting imports of U.S. fresh potatoes, while at the same time, exporting increasing amounts of potatoes to the U.S.

“Canada remains one of our closest friends and allies, but we still need, and our farmers deserve, reciprocity in trade,” said Hoeven. “That’s why we continue urging the administration to address Canada’s unfair treatment of American agriculture exports. Our trading partners would never tolerate this kind of treatment from the U.S., and this hearing was an opportunity to reinforce the importance of these issues for the administration. At the same time, we highlighted the need to address increased transportation and storage costs for our state’s producers when implementing trade assistance. We’ve advanced this priority with Agriculture Secretary Perdue, and we’re working to ensure the second half of USDA’s assistance accounts for the increase in basis.”

Addressing Impacts of Canadian Potato Imports

This week’s hearing builds on meetings Hoeven recently arranged between the Northern Plains Potato Growers and the administration, including Doud and officials from the USDA, the Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission (ITC), to address ongoing issues with imported produce from Canada. Hoeven is working to advance a study of the economic impacts of Canadian imports on the nation’s potato producers.

Accounting for Basis in Trade Assistance

During the hearing, Hoeven also outlined to Dr. Robert Johansson, Chief Economist at the USDA, the need to adjust the administration’s trade assistance to include the increase in basis. Hoeven stressed the amount of work and investment local producers have put into accessing foreign markets, such as soybean producers identifying buyers and establishing transportation routes to serve the Chinese market. The disrupted market access has increased these costs and should be accounted for when measuring the impact of retaliatory tariffs.

Progress on NAFTA Negotiations

Last month, the administration announced that it had reached a preliminary agreement with Mexico on central aspects of a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiation. Under fast-track authority, this deal will receive expedited consideration in Congress and require only simple majority votes in the House and Senate for passage. The U.S. and Canada are continuing high-level negotiations, with the hope of reaching an agreement to add Canada to the deal soon.