Members of Canada's Horticulture Council issued a public statement this week claiming that many accusations being made in the United States about unfair duties and trade restrictions are not true.
Written under the name of Wayne Dorsey, chairman of the Potato Committee of the Canadian Horticultural Council, the release states that the Council meets with the U.S. National Potato Council every November to discuss issues.
The Canadians claim that decisions are made at those meeting to reflect what is best for the entire potato industry in both countries.
They also claim that Canadian and U.S. potato committees met in 1999 to review regulatory differences and restrictions affecting bilateral trade in potatoes. The final report, agreed to by both sides, was presented to the respective governments in September 1999. The report contained recommendaitons on nine separate issues affecting trade, some that are again being mentioned.
The Canadians say that because many of the present members of the NPC were signatories to the report, they assume that the endorsement of the U.S. industry also remains.
The Canadians claim they are charged with unfair regulatory practices, but signed the agreement and reviewed it in 2002. They agreed that each country produce a document which outlines respective regulations. The purpose was to assist the understanding of each others' regulatory system. The Canadian document was completed and the U.S. document has still not been completed.
Canadians claim that the failure of the U.S. to abide by its commitment has affected the spirit of cooperation between the two countries.
On the matter of unfair duties, the Canadians claim anti-dumping legislation is in place in both the U.S. and Canada and decisions by either are based on facts and are not used as trade barriers.
Canada claims the U.S. has utilized its legislation more often than any other country in the western world. They say the filing of trade complaints against Canadian ag sectors, including wheat, pork, beef, raspberries and tomatoes are well documented.
Duties on exports of potaotes marketed into British Columbia are only implemented when the selling price by the U.S. is below their cost of production. When selling at or above the cost of production, there is free and open markets.
The release goes on to point out that the potato industry in North America is under pressure and that a way to move forward and work together is needed.
"If we point fingers at each other as producers, we will only exacerbate the situation. It is only the foolhardy farmer that continues to expand and thinks that those with 'deep pockets' will survive."
In addition the release states, "It is time for industry leadership in both countries to show some collective wisdom, cease playing politics and lower the rhetoric."