Canada’s Variety Registration System limits market access, four U.S. Senators said
By Diego Flammini
Four U.S. politicians are asking the federal government to do more to provide wheat farmers with increased access to the Canadian market.
Senators Kevin Cramer and John Hoeven from North Dakota, Tina Smith from Minnesota, and Steve Daines of Montana wrote a letter to Gregg Doud, America’s chief agricultural negotiator, asking him to continue working with Canada on the issue of wheat imports.
“Our producers remain concerned that access to Canada’s market will continue to be inhibited based on Canada’s requirement that strictly limits the varieties of wheat that can be included in its premium classes…,” the July 8 letter says.
Canada’s Variety Registration System only allows varieties that have received proper approvals to enter the country.
This measure puts U.S. wheat producers at a disadvantage, said Elizabeth Westendorf, assistant director of policy with U.S. Wheat Associates.
“The registration process takes about three years and looks at a lot of data that wouldn’t be relevant to imported grain,” she told Farms.com. “It’s been frustrating for our farmers because now that they can drive wheat north when prices allow, they can’t drive all of it north.”
U.S. producers want the same market access in Canada that Canadian farmers have south of the border, Westendorf said.
“Canadian farmers have free market access to American grain elevators,” she said. “We don’t classify by country. You show up at the elevator, the elevator tests protein and other characteristics, and you’re given a price for it.”
Some text within the USMCA between Canada, the United States and Mexico states that the countries will agree to continue discussing grain grading or classifications.
Keeping the communication lines open will help ensure this issue is resolved, Westendorf said.
“This isn’t something that is going to be fixed overnight,” she said. “But we need to continue having those conversations about how we can make sure we’re working within Canada’s system so U.S. farmers can take advantage of using Canadian elevators.”